INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal to improve the sale process for abandoned Lake County properties with unpaid property taxes won unanimous approval Thursday by the House Local Government Committee.
Senate Bill 310 creates a three-year pilot program allowing Gary, and potentially Hammond and East Chicago, to establish “new opportunity areas” composed of multiple abandoned properties that would be auctioned as a group for redevelopment, instead of forcing developers to acquire lots individually at tax sales.
The goal, according to state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, a House sponsor, is to put the properties to productive use and get them back on the tax rolls.
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“We can make these properties available to prospective developers and turn a blighted area into some valuable property,” Slager said. “Hopefully it will be a big benefit to Gary, in particular, but also Lake County generally.”
The measure additionally includes provisions to cut down on speculators who buy dozens of properties at tax sales but then fail to do anything with most of them, including pay property taxes, which sends the parcels back to the tax sale list.
A fifth of Gary’s properties currently are listed for tax sale.