PERRY -- This city likely will have a new tool to fight dilapidated properties.
City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt a blight ordinance, which will increase the city’s share of property tax bills sevenfold on properties deemed blighted. Such a tax increase is only possible on properties that meet certain conditions and will not be levied on owner-occupied homes.
The measure still needs review by the city attorney, because council members adopted a significant change, which would send appeals to the mayor and City Council instead of Municipal Court. It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether such a move is permissible under state law. If the city attorney doesn’t think such a measure is legal, the blight tax issue will return to City Council for further work. No council members were opposed to the purpose of the ordinance itself.
Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said the expected change brings the blight ordinance in line with other city codes, which have the mayor and City Council receiving appeals. He said that was probably in the best interests of the city government and the property owners.
Other Georgia communities have tried such blight taxes before. They’re generally expected to supplement other tools, including regular city code enforcement operations.
Under Perry’s draft, owners who invest in their properties to bring them out of a blighted condition can get tax credits for as many as four years.
On Tuesday, the City Council operated with all its seats filled for the first time in months. Robert Jones was sworn in as a council member, taking over the unexpired portion of the term of Joe Posey, who resigned Aug. 1 to take care of his family.
Jones thanked Perry residents for trusting him with the position.
“I hope to make you proud each and every day I’m in office,” Jones said.
Faircloth also talked to several residents of Creekwood Drive, who a month ago had asked him and City Council members for help in cleaning up a badly done construction project. Tuesday, residents asked for -- and were denied -- curbs and gutters for the 1100 block of Creekwood Drive, which would match another block of the street.
Faircloth said the cost of re-engineering the effort would be cost-prohibitive, though residents could agree to pay for the project themselves.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.