The members of the Dorchester Village Board read this website, so we'll go ahead and ask the question: Is it time for the village to impose a land value tax on vacant properties in town?
Last week, we stumbled across a story that tells of several U.S. cities calling for a “land value tax” as a way to improve downtrodden areas.
The tax -- which imposes higher levies on vacant property, thereby increasing the owner’s costs of holding on to unused, distressed property -- is being heralded as a way to eliminate blight and drive redevelopment.
- Lower property taxes for responsible home and business owners in town.
- Force negligent owners to sell or renovate their properties.
- Provide the town government more revenue for economic development.
- Make more in-town property owners have some "skin in the game."
Still, we continue to think this tax or one like it to address vacant properties should be considered by Dorchester's five village representatives and perhaps put to the voters in the form of a ballot question.
To make a difference in Dorchester, it might take a 5% surtax on properties vacant for more than 18 months -- and properties that aren't the owner's primary residence. For example, the $30,000 vacant home and lot in town -- which currently costs an owner roughly $425 a year in property taxes -- would suddenly see $1,500 added to that yearly property tax bill.
We'd guess that extra taxation would get vacant property owners to either sell or rent their empty homes and buildings that currently only detract from Dorchester.