Harrisburg – June 27, 2014 – Legislation that allows counties to establish a fund to clear dilapidated buildings and prepare sites for redevelopment was approved by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee today, according to the bill’s sponsor state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“One of the problems older communities have is that there is too much dilapidated and blighted property without the means to clear the land and spur development,” Brewster said. “My legislation enables counties to create a fund that would pay for removal of blighted property.”

Under Brewster’s legislation (Senate Bill 1442), counties would be able to charge and collect a fee of up to 10 percent for each property sold at tax sale. These funds would be deposited into a fund managed by the county to pay for the elimination of blight.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Brewster served as mayor of McKeesport. As mayor, he sought to rehabilitate blighted areas of the city because “it was the only way for older industrial cities that have weathered tough economic times to recharge the housing stock, sow the seeds of redevelopment and replenish the tax base.”

He said that it was important to generate funding to eliminate blight without using local funds since municipal budgets are already stretched too thin.

Brewster serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Urban Affairs Committee. He predicted that the bill will now be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a fiscal note.

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