Commissioners Discuss New Fee for Deed Transfers to Fight Blight

At Wednesday’s State of the County luncheon at The Lodge at Sharp Mountain, the Schuylkill County commissioners said they would consider imposing a $15 fee on each deed filed in order to combat blight.

“(A) $15 fee isn’t going to make or break a deal,” Commissioner Frank J. Staudenmeier told more than 50 people at the luncheon held by the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t think we’d get much pushback.”

Commissioner Gary J. Hess, who was mayor of Schuylkill Haven before assuming his current office, also said the fee could help communities get rid of crumbling buildings.

“Blight in Schuylkill County is a big issue,” he said. “It continues to grow.”

Commissioners Chairman George F. Halcovage Jr. said blight has a wide-ranging effect, noting that for some business leaders, a dilapidated but now-demolished building in Darkwater would have been the first one they would have seen heading south on Route 61 after leaving Interstate 81. He also said that any money raised by the fee would have to be used to fight blight.

“It does have a major effect,” he said of blight. “We have to make sure we have great pride. We have a responsibility to the area.”

Blight, the prevalence of old dilapidated buildings in almost every area of the county, was one of the hot topics the commissioners discussed at the meeting where all three praised the county as a good place to live but which needs work to make it even better.

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