Sanford City Commissioners are considering a plan to tax property owners with vacant buildings.
Known as a “building preservation licensing program,” the plan would require commercial and residential building owners to maintain a minimum occupancy rate, for example 25% for commercial properties, or face annual licensing fees.
In addition, code enforcement officers would annually inspect the property to ensure the building is watertight, secured against unwarranted entry, all facades are maintained and no code violations exist.
The purpose of the program would be to reduce the number of vacant buildings and require property owners of vacant buildings to comply with maintenance standards.
Building preservation programs have been established in several Florida municipalities. The licensing fees typically start at a few hundred dollars for the first year, and double each year the building remains below the required occupancy rate. The fees would cover the cost of code enforcement inspections. Property owners would also be required to pay any city cost incurred to maintain the building.
The proposal is in the very preliminary stages of discussions. In fact, commissioners will discuss the licensing program for the first time tonight during their work session meeting. There currently is no timetable when or if the commission will move forward with the tax.
The plan was part of a number of recommendations made by an outside consulting firm in 2014.