Poughkeepsie home owners that don’t keep up their vacant properties are looking at hefty new fines. YNN’s John Wagner has the details.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — If you live in the City of Poughkeepsie, you can get a lawn mowed by professionals for around fifty bucks. But if left uncut and you’re an absentee owner of a vacant property, the city’s now charging $1,500 a visit to take care of property violations.
“We’re putting our foot down to let them know the city is not going to stand for these nuisance properties to deteriorate even more,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik. “We have to board them up, we have to shovel the snow, we have to pick up the debris and that becomes very costly.”
Poughkeepsie’s Common Council voted in the attention-grabbing penalty in hopes banks and runaway owners take notice.
“The banks tend to pay their taxes because they don’t want to lose a property to a tax sale,” explained City of Poughkeepsie Corporation Counsel Paul Ackermann. “This is going to be added in there and they’ll realize last year the taxes were ‘x’ amount and this year they were ‘y’ amount due to administrative fees.”
“It’s taking us longer to pick up the garbage, to mow the parks, to sweep the streets, because we have to stop our regular duties to break away for violations,” said Mayor Tkazyik.
The city is hoping to have fewer break aways once owners see $1,500 added to their standard cleanup bill. Realtors caution that owners must be notified properly for the fees to hold up in court and blame the longer process to foreclose for some of the blight.
“The owners move out, it takes years to foreclose and meanwhile, the properties are in limbo,” said Mark Raphael, the president and CEO of Associa River Management in Poughkeepsie.
When Mayor Tkazyik took office in 2008, only around 20 homes were known vacant, now that number has ballooned to more than 300. They’re an ugly site leaving neighbors stuck in a quagmire.
“It impedes sales,” continued Mark Raphael. “And then the people who want to sell, can’t sell. And then they walk away from their house, and it’s just kind of a never ending cycle.”
“Until the economy starts coming back, until the real estate market starts coming back, until we see an increase in the value of homes, that’s when we’re going to see this tide turn,” said Ackermann.
In the meantime, officials say they’ll do what they can to keep the Queen City looking pretty.