Augusta looks at borrowing money needed to battle blight

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

AUGUSTA,Ga  (WJBF) Willie Bennett has them has neighbors abandoned houses he wants the city to take down.

“Well it would help me because then I could come outside and you know I would have to look at an eyesore,” said Willie Bennett.

“Lots of eye sores in Augusta the even though the city is taking the property to court to be torn down, the dollars are not keeping pace with the blight.

“Right now there’s 427 houses on the books today and more are being added every day that’s 2 point one five million dollars’ worth of cost with a four hundred thousand dollar budget that’s a five year backlog,” said Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson.

To get to the backlog and pay for future demolitions the recommendation is for the city is basically borrow up to five million, but the idea isn’t on a firm foundation.

“I don’t know how we can go there what’s going to be the revenue stream to pay off the bond  and the other process is how are we going to redevelop one we tear down the abandoned homes how do we get them back on the tax rolls,” says Commissioner Sean Frantom.

A majority of the buildings are in Commissioner Bill Fennoy’s district but he wouldn’t want to issue a bond without a plan for the property after the houses are gone.

“I don’t want to be into the discussions of abandoned houses today and six months later we talk about lots that need to be cut,” said Fennoy.

Borrowing the dollars would get a lot more houses torn down but it could also make what you pay for garbage go up.

“Could you support a revenue bond being paid back with an increase in garbage rates?”

Absolutely not,” said Frantom.

Landfill Director Mark Johnson says at this point there’s been no decision made that even if commisioners approve issuing the bonds for demolition that garbage rates will need to go up.

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