Though, yes I am feeling a little nostalgic for 80’s/90’s movies, this discussion isn’t about Spike Lee , Charlie Sheen or the late, great, Lloyd Bridges.

Early 2019, we wrote about specific ordinance language that was appearing in registration ordinances across the country. I believe this may have been a result of poor and possibly negligent guidance these communities were receiving. Other communities that have (had) this language may simply have replicated neighboring communities.

Happily, it appears the word got out and many have since amended the dangerous language, though perhaps inadvertently diminishing the effectiveness of the program (perhaps a topic for a later date).

One recent development on that front is the introduction of A10898 into the New York Legislature that directly addresses the issue.

This bill has two primary facets, first is the elimination of this legal risk, however the second facet is in regarding to fees.

The proposed bill would limit applicable registration fees to $75. According to proponents of the Bill there are several motivations for this limitation, however the primary concern is these registration fees (paid by the bank/mortgage servicer) being charged to a homeowner who is delinquent on their mortgage and attempting to re-instate. (NY State Dept. of Financial Services did issue recent guidance disallowing this action).

All safeguards should be on the table for struggling homeowners. While higher fees can be enticing to municipal leaders, perhaps viewed as an additional revenue source to supplement the code enforcement budget, especially in today’s environment, it is critical to look at the big picture.

The right thing to do is to have registries be revenue neutral, or at best revenue positive, but not really viewed as “revenue generators”.  The right thing to do is look at all potential consequences to develop the right fee structure, and perhaps implement alternative strategies to better leverage the usage of the fees.

The early proponents of these registries never viewed them as a “silver bullet” to address blight. There are other broad and direct strategies to maximize resources and recoup lost funds. Recent presentations by the Center for Community Progress have advocated for this approach.

However, this is not a “line in the sand” as it does not necessarily present the legal risk.

MuniReg will continue to work with its partners and support whatever decision they choose.

MuniReg will continue to work with the legislation’s proponents to enhance and clarify the current language for some needed changes* (perhaps a topic for a later date).

In the interim, A10898 has our support!

*To learn more about these needed changes, please email [email protected]