MAHONING COUNTY Group's report on foreclosure reform nears

The task force is looking for ways to cut the time and expense of the process.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County and community officials are about two weeks away from wrapping up a study that they hope will help reduce vacant land parcels and increase collection of delinquent property taxes.
A Vacant Land Task Force was created in August, made up of government and community leaders who want to reduce the time it takes to foreclose on delinquent properties.
The group was split into two committees, a Foreclosure Process Committee, chaired by Joseph Caruso, county special projects director, and an Economic Development Committee, chaired by Jeff Chagnot, Youngstown's economic development director.
County Treasurer John Reardon said the committees were to examine the county's foreclosure process and compare it to processes used in other counties, then report back with recommendations for improvement.
The reports were to be finished this month, and Reardon said they are nearly finished. A meeting of the full task force will be held in about two weeks to discuss the committees' findings, Reardon said.
Results of those studies won't be announced until the meeting, he said.
The group was formed in response to a proposal Reardon put forth in July 2002, which he said would significantly reduce the time and expense spent foreclosing on delinquent properties.
According to 2001 figures, there were some 15,600 vacant properties in the county, most of them in Youngstown, whose owners owe $24.2 million in back taxes.