City wants more money for empty space

    A Philadelphia homeowners association is threatening to sue over a bill that would significantly increase the cost of owning a vacant lot in the city.

    A Philadelphia homeowners association is threatening to sue over a bill that would significantly increase the cost of owning a vacant lot in the city.

    A vacant property license in Philadelphia now costs $300 a year.  The bill would give one year’s grace for people who own a vacant lot or property.  Year two would cost 500 dollars.  By year ten, it escalates to five thousand dollars.  Attorney Darrell Zalsow of the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia says the fees are not warranted.

    “The fees charged by a municipality for services it renders, must be based on the costs of the municipality performing that service. A municipality cannot use its power to charge fees for issuing licenses or permits for the purpose of raising revenue for general governmental purposes.”

    City officials say the fees are to cover the costs to maintaining the vacant properties and for cleaning and sealing and other code enforcement efforts.  But the fees under this bill ratchet up regardless of whether a vacant property is maintained.

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