SALISBURY — Hoping to bring properties in limbo back onto the tax roll, the Salisbury City Council agreed this week to focus on purchasing five properties at next month’s tax sale. The price tag for all five is expected to be $122,000.
“Eventually, once we acquire these properties, the money would come back into the city,” said City Administrator John Pick.
While the five properties were not named, officials said that all of them have the potential to be turned around and revitalized.
“The whole idea is to move them from non-revenue producing properties into something else,” said Councilwoman Deborah Campbell.
All of the properties included in the upcoming June 14 tax sale have been abandoned and have spent several years collecting liens.
“These things have been sitting there for three forevers,” said Mayor Jim Ireton.
For months, the council has discussed purchasing some of the idle lots and then getting them back on the market one way or another, either privately or with the help of agencies like Habitat for Humanity or Salisbury Neighborhood Housing.
Properties up for tax sale traditionally move at a glacial pace. Pick explained that this is because the fines or liens that the city, county and state put against the neglected properties can often eclipse the lot’s value. If the city is making the purchase, however, the council has the authority to waive any liens that they have levied. Additionally, Pick said that Salisbury will be asking Wicomico to waive their liens as well and hopes they will do so at least partially. Paying the state liens appears unavoidable.
According to Ireton, the lots represent “thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars” worth of property.
“Are these buildable lots?” asked Councilwoman Shanie Shields.
After some minor consulting, Pick replied that all five do have the potential to be built upon.
Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said that she is pleased by the end goal of the project, which will be to “increase home ownership” and return wandering properties back to the tax roll.