Realtors oppose York County raising deed recording fee for demolition

David Weissman
York Dispatch
York County commissioners are considering a proposal to enact a $15 fee on all deeds and mortgages recorded to create a demolition fund to eliminate blighted properties around the county.

The Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties is in favor of getting rid of blighted properties, but not if it means increasing costs for  home-buyers.

York County commissioners are considering a proposal to add a fee up to $15 for each deed and mortgage recorded by the county recorder of deeds.

The additional fee, proposed by the York County Economic Alliance, would be pooled into a countywide demolition fund to eliminate blighted properties.

Shanna Terroso, executive director for RAYAC, spoke during the commissioners' meeting Dec. 6 to let them know her organization was against the new fee.

"We believe it's time to stop picking the pockets of home-buyers," Terroso said, pointing to a host of other fees, including realty transfer tax, that people already pay when purchasing homes.

The base fee for deed and mortgage recording in York County is currently $70.25, which rose from $65.50 at the end of November because of two bills signed into law this year to fund the Judicial Computer System, Access to Justice and Criminal Justice Enhancement Account.

Terroso said down payments and closing costs are one of the biggest barriers to buying homes for most people.

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She suggested that, since the entire community would benefit from eliminating blighted properties, the funding source should come from state or local broad-based taxes.

The economic alliance and other local entities are working to create a countywide land bank authority, which would exist to identify, acquire and rehabilitate blighted, tax-delinquent properties in order to get them back on the mainstream market.

Act 152, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last year, allowed local governments to authorize  recorders of deeds to collect a fee of up to $15 for each deed or mortgage recorded, with the money collected used exclusively for demolition of blighted property.

Terroso said her association isn't against the creation of a land bank authority, just the proposed funding mechanism.

Despite RAYAC's objections, the commissioners unanimously voted to authorize the county's solicitor to proceed with the creation of the authority and to prepare and advertise a demolition fund ordinance.

According to county records, nearly 29,500 deeds and mortgages were recorded in 2016, which would amount to more than $440,000 annually for a countywide demolition fund if the full $15 fee is enacted.

Terroso said RAYAC would continue engaging commissioners and the economic alliance to try to come up with alternative methods for funding the demolition fund.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.