Excerpt: Erie County commissioners Bill Monaghan and Pat Shenigo got a huge assist last year from Jim Rokakis, the former Cuyahoga County treasurer who currently serves as director of Thriving Communities Institute, which supports land bank programs throughout Ohio.
Rokakis helped establish the Erie County Land Bank and the state awarded the county about $473,000 to demolish abandoned structures on blighted properties. The county land bank program also puts teeth into the efforts to force delinquent property owners to make decisions about their properties and become responsible as land owners.
We never understood why other county officials were so reluctant previously to push people to pay what they owe in back taxes, but were glad that reluctance — whether it was personal or politics — was beaten down.
If it has the desired outcome, better collections of delinquent property taxes will help restore diminished revenue and the land bank will put the demolition program for abandoned and vacant properties in high gear.
Protecting neighborhoods from blight has always been an important responsibility; we're pleased it has finally become a priority for county officials.