Ensure Bonds Can Be Repaid

Many Ohio Valley towns, cities and counties have initiatives to get rid of dilapidated buildings. Often, that means taking property from owners who cannot afford to demolish unsafe structures, and using taxpayers’ money to do the work.

That means progress is slow. Few communities can afford to pay for demolition of more than a handful of buildings each year.

Steubenville City Council members are being asked to consider a way to take a large bite out of the problem. It was proposed this week by City Manager Tim Boland and Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi.

Their idea is to demolish 55 dilapidated structures at one time, at a cost of about $907,500.

That would represent a giant leap forward, potentially clearing entire neighborhoods of unsightly, unsafe, unhealthy wrecked structures. It would allow Steubenville to present a new, appealing face to residents and business people – including those considering expanding existing businesses or establishing new ones.

There is a catch, of course. The $907,500 needed for the campaign simply is not available through the normal budget process. It would have to be obtained by selling bonds, as Boland and Petrossi explained. They noted a similar bond sale was used for the same purpose in Columbus.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Johnson expressed the obvious concern:?”If we pursue this, we need to make sure we can pay the bonds back,” he noted.

Precisely. The idea of a major campaign against dilapidated structures is very appealing. But so are many other uses of taxpayers’ money. Paying the bills is the challenge.

Boland and Petrossi have a good idea. If, and only if, council members can be comfortable a stream of revenue sufficient to pay off the necessary bonds can be found, the proposal should be pursued.