Politics & Government

Perry to tweak new blight tax again

PERRY -- City Council members agreed Tuesday that Perry’s new blight tax should be tweaked again, changing how landlords can appeal a seven-fold tax increase on their properties.

The wording of the ordinance passed last month sent appeals of the blight tax to Municipal Court. But the City Council and Mayor Jimmy Faircloth voted to have themselves hear the appeal, if the city attorney decided that was legally possible.

But on Tuesday, the City Council voted to have the city attorney draft changes that would send appeals to a hearing officer.

Faircloth said City Attorney David Walker’s suggestion of a hearing officer would be a better choice. The hearing officer could be the Municipal Court judge or perhaps an attorney experienced in real estate law, Faircloth said. He didn’t expect the blight ordinance would wind up being used very often.

The city’s blight tax is modeled on one previously used in Griffin, Walker said in a memo.

“Griffin and Perry are apples and oranges,” Faircloth told The Telegraph. “We have not tried it here. We feel this is an opportunity to keep our properties clean.”

Walker will draft proposed changes, which then would need to go back to City Council for approval.

Separately, the council altered a request to rezone a former barbershop at 1315 W.F. Ragin Drive from R-3 to C-2. Faircloth said the property owner and applicant both agreed that an LC, or limited commercial, zoning would be appropriate for a planned thrift store that would operate in a neighborhood. Council members approved the new zoning.

The council also heard the first reading of changes to its downtown development district regulations. If approved, the move would give power to approve certificates of appropriateness to the city’s Economic Development Department. It also would put a height limit of 37 feet for buildings in Perry’s historic downtown.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.