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Illinois Senate approves plan to help local governments address vacant properties

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Many people drive past abandoned properties in their neighborhood. The Illinois Senate passed a plan Friday that could save those buildings before they become an eyesore in communities.

Senate Bill 1721 would make it easier for local governments to acquire the title to vacant properties. It also allows governments to mow the grass and remove garbage around the buildings or decide to demolish or remodel the property.

Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) explained communities could partner with landbanks to maintain and manage the properties so they can be saved. He says the bill also reduces the cap on interest rates on unpaid property taxes to 12%.

“This will help encourage property owners to stay in their homes and again reduce this perpetuation of blight that we see in many neighborhoods,” Stadelman said.

Some Republicans argued lowering the interest rate may make some of the properties less attractive for investors.

“While it may be advantageous for the city of Rockford and other communities, there are many other communities in this state concerned about this legislation,” said Sen. Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles).

Stadelman explained the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois Association of Counties supported the bill. He said the measure will increase the tax base and improve local government revenue in the long term.

The bill passed out of the Senate on a 50-4 vote. It now moves to the House for consideration.

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Mike Miletich

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