LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says bills approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature would give 20,000 Detroit homeowners the ability to restructure their property tax debts to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

“State lawmakers…passed three important pieces of legislation that will significantly improve the quality of life for the residents of our city,” Duggan said in a statement to WWJ. “Individually, these bills help Detroiters avoid tax foreclosure, allow the city to more quickly remove blight and help attract thousands of new jobs to Detroit.”

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The legislation would cut interest on back taxes from 18 percent to 6 percent and let homeowners enter into a payment plan for up to five years to pay down their delinquency. A debt forgiveness component also would be established to ensure a homeowner’s tax bill is no more than 25 percent of the house’s market value.

Duggan says he’s also happy about passage of an insurance-related bill that would help the city deal with burned-out buildings in need of demolition.

“This legislation gives the city the ability to more quickly address fire damaged buildings by requiring insurance companies to place into the fire escrow fund $12,000 to cover the full cost of demolition, as opposed to the current amount of $6,000,” he said in a statement.

The bills also allow for the creation of a new tax free zone for 150 acres of vacant land near city airport, with the potential of creating thousands of good paying jobs.

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“My administration already has been negotiating with the UAW, the Big 3 and automotive suppliers to relocate jobs from other countries to a proposed new industrial park on this land,” Duggan said. “This location is ideal for attracting multi-modal transportation related jobs since it is next to Detroit City Airport and in close proximity to I-94, major rail lines, and large inter-modal facility and our international bridge crossing.”

The bills, which passed Thursday, now head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature.

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