Key housing market contract up

December 11, 2011
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Kent County commissioners will decide this week whether to extend a three-year-old contract the county’s Bureau of Equalization has with the Dorothy Johnson Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University for three more years.

The agreement, which began in 2009, has the office providing real-estate data on a quarterly basis to the institute, which uses that information to analyze and report the pattern of residential foreclosures throughout the county. CRI then makes the results public.

“The original funding provided to CRI for this analysis ends in December 2011. Because of the relatively high number of foreclosures still occurring, it is recommended that the county contract with GVSU CRI for continued foreclosure analysis,” said County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio. “The proposed contract is for three years, with a total funding commitment of $19,000.”

Members of the county’s Finance Committee recommended last week that the full board extend the agreement, which would run through Dec. 31, 2014. The per-year cost to the county is $6,333; the revenue would come from the Register of Deeds department in the county clerk’s office.

“I think this is a modest cost over the next few years,” said Commissioner Carol Hennessy.

County Assistant Administrator Wayman Britt said the resulting information on residential foreclosures would be used to make changes in the county. “We’re not sure what types of activities will take place, but the data will help us decide that,” said Britt. “The hope is we will have the data and help the community identify the types of activities that should be taken.”

Commissioner Jim Talen, however, didn’t think that was a good enough reason to extend the contract and commit the funds. “It’s unusual that the county would want to fund the collection of data and not know what we’re going to do with it. I find that a bit unusual,” he said.

The institute has tracked residential foreclosures across the 30 municipalities in the county since 2004, when there were 1,151. CRI reported there were 3,011 in 2010, and 1,126 through the first six months of this year. CRI also reported there have been 18,982 foreclosures, including redemptions, in the county from 2004 through June 30, 2011.

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