Mechanicsburg joins effort to fight blight in Cumberland County

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. - The effort to enact a fee on property sales to fund the renovation of blighted properties is gaining steam in Cumberland County.

In Mechanicsburg on Tuesday night, council members approved a resolution supporting the effort. While it could be viewed as mostly symbolic, leaders say it is something that is needed.

“We have a few places that are actually blighted,” Rodney Whitcomb, president of the Mechanicsburg borough council, said.

Last year, the state approved a plan to allow counties to collect a $15 fee on property sales that would be dedicated to fix up dilapidated properties, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf as Act 152.

“It goes into a county fund and it's used throughout the county to take care of either eliminating the property or fixing them up,” Whitcomb said.

The Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has been spearheading the effort as they are working to bring the proposal to county commissioners.

A board would oversee the fund. The fee is estimated to raise about a quarter of a million dollars annually.

With population growth expected in Cumberland County in the next few years, there's hope that the property sales, much of that from new homes, could help make old new again.

I think it's a good thing,” Whitcomb said. “The enactment of that will help keep some of the towns where there are more blighted properties than what we have.”

County commissioners still have to sign off on the proposal. A vote on that is expected later this month.