Land bank legislation could get lost in shuffle of deep agenda

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A land-bank bill that hit multiple roadblocks in the last legislative session is destined for summer study, but the bill’s author doubts the subject will capture his colleagues’ attention.

Clere Clere

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, pointed out that land banks are in ninth and last place on the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy’s agenda.

Legislative leaders recently assigned Clere’s bill, House Bill 1317, to the standing commission, which is also due to tackle such subjects as township assistance, agricultural land valuation and a motorsports commission.

“It will be competing for attention, there’s no question about it,” Clere said.

Even before news of the alleged Indy Land Bank kickback scheme broke in May, county officials were leery about expanding the use of land banks because they want to maximize revenue through their own tax-sale process. Land banks can obtain properties from county tax sales, clear title and sell them at a below-market price to homeowners, investors or developers.

Clere knows some skeptics will see land banks as ripe for abuse, but he said there’s nothing about the alleged Indy Land Bank scheme that couldn’t have occurred elsewhere in government.

“That’s not a land-bank-specific issue as much as a general corruption issue,” he said.

Land banks must be transparent, Clere said. An amendment that failed to win passage would have required land banks to post their inventories and procedures for disposing of properties online.

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