York lawmaker addresses fire-damaged, abandoned buildings
York County Democratic Rep. Kevin Schreiber is hoping to ease financial pressures on local governments burdened by structures that have been damaged by fire and abandoned.
He has introduced House Bill 1833, a measure that would increase the amount of money placed into municipal fire escrow accounts to enable a municipality to remove, repair or secure a structure damaged by a fire if the property is abandoned or not brought up to code by the owner after a designated time.
"The abandonment of properties damaged by fire increases urban blight and puts significant financial pressure on local governments throughout Pennsylvania," Schreiber said in a statement. "Abandoned properties become havens for illegal activities and detract from neighborhood pride, stability and property value."
When a property is damaged beyond occupancy by fire, a modest amount of property insurance money is retained by the municipality until the property is brought to code compliance. Schreiber's bill would increase the aggregate amount of money placed in municipal fire escrow accounts to $4,000 from $2,000 for every $15,000 received in insurance claims by a private property owner.
It also would require the property to be returned to code or removed within one year of the property owner receiving an insurance claim. After one year, any expenses incurred by the municipality to remove, repair or secure the structure would be reimbursable from the funds held in escrow.
Schreiber won the House seat in May's special election. It was previously occupied by Eugene DePasquale, who was elected state auditor general last year.
The York representative was previously the city's community and economic development director.