Hogansville considers blight ordinance

Published 8:50 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

The City of Hogansville voted to move forward with drafting a blight property ordinance at Monday night’s council meeting.

The vote instructed City Attorney Jeff Todd to draft an ordinance, which would increase the city’s property tax on any property deemed blighted. The city staff recommended the blighted property’s ad valorem tax would be multiplied by a factor of seven to the millage rate applied to the property.

“If the council likes what they see, they have to direct staff and the city attorney to move forward and put it in a Hogansville final form,” said City Manager David Milliron.

“The City of Jackson is a great example where they have aggressively gone and cleaned up,” Milliron continued. “The City of Griffin is another model city where they are getting it cleaned up.”

Mayor Bill Stankiewicz recommended going to Jackson, a city more similarly sized to Hogansville. Several members of the council seemed interested in taking that trip, including councilman Fred Higgins.

“We need to clean this city up,” Higgins said. “We want to expand, we want Hogansville to grow and if they look at this blight, we’ll be off the list. I want to move forward any way we can.”

According to the model ordinance, which has been utilized by other cities, a property would be deemed blighted if two or more of the following conditions were present: if it was uninhabitable, didn’t have adequate provisions for ventilation, light, air or sanitation, if it is a harm to life or other property; if it is a site identified by the Environmental Protection Agency or having environmental contamination, if repeated illegal activity has taken place on the property that the property owner knew or should have known or if the maintenance of the property is below state, county or municipal codes for at least one year after written notice of the code violation to the owner.

The Hogansville ordinance deals specifically with structures that are not habitable. The increased tax would also not affect the county property tax.

If a property was taken off the blighted list due to work completed by the property owner, that property could receive a break on its city property tax.

The city of Hogansville already has an ordinance on the books that deals with uninhabited, dilapidated properties. That ordinance allows the city to place a utility hold on dilapidated properties when the utility owner changes, meaning utilities won’t be turned on until the structure is deemed safe to live in.

For a complete read of the model blight ordinance, visit the City of Hogansville website at www.cityofhogansville.com.