The City Council engaged in a series of discussions throughout 2023, specifically on implementing a separate tax on vacant and blighted properties. These deliberations occurred during three key meetings held on April 25, September 19, and October 24.

In the preceding meetings, the City Council received presentations from the staff, focusing on general information about vacant and blighted properties and their broader economic impact on communities. Various possibilities for special property tax rates were explored, accompanied by examples from neighboring jurisdictions implementing similar measures.

During the October 24 meeting, the Council contemplated the establishment of a committee dedicated to further studying this matter. The envisioned committee, if formed, would be tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • Develop a precise definition of a “vacant and blighted” property within the context of College Park.
  • Identify City properties meeting the established criteria.
  • Evaluate whether implementing a higher tax rate would effectively incentivize property owners to make necessary improvements, thereby removing their properties from the “vacant and blighted” list.
  • Propose a comprehensive program derived from the evaluation, encompassing potential higher tax rates, penalties, or incentives to drive positive changes.
  • Determine additional program aspects, such as the establishment of an appeals board.
  • Incorporate best practices from other jurisdictions that have successfully addressed similar issues.

At next week’s meeting, the City Council will discuss whether to form a “Vacant and Blighted Property Committee” at this juncture. The Council is expected to finalize the committee’s mandate and composition if the decision is affirmative. Further updates on this critical initiative will be provided as the City Council continues its discussions and considerations.