Detroit mayor proposes plan to spark development, help homeowners and target blight

Detroit is making progress in its quest to clean up blighted properties, but Mayor Mike Duggan says there is one major thing holding up the progress: No incentive for the landowners to build anything.    

"We have a tax system that has zero tax on land," he said at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Making matters worse, the current tax rate on home and business owners is the highest in Metro Detroit.   

But now the mayor says he has a plan to flip that around.

"That's it, the whole thing, cut the taxes on the buildings 30 percent, triple the taxes on the land," Duggan said.

It is a plan that he hopes to roll out over the next three years. And that will target the 30,000 vacant landowners. The vacant businesses, the parking lot owners, and the blighted and dilapidated old factories.

"If you let your building go, the assessor has to make it zero," Duggan said. "Now once the building is zero, what do you tax it on?  Your land, your land is zero. The greatest deal in the world is to let the building decline."

Duggan is hoping his new plan will incentivize development - and help out the current homeowners.

"If you've got a $200,000 house as a homeowner, you are going to save nearly $2,000 a year off of this proposal," Duggan said.

For any of this to work, it needs approval. The mayor hopes to put it on the ballot by February, and enact the plan in 2025.