Proposed blight ordinance would tax nuisance property owners

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta has an ongoing battle with blight. Properties like this do not get in this shape overnight. Now there’s a new proposed ordinance that would hit property owners where it hurts, with higher taxes. 

They’re houses but not homes, abandoned by their owners. They’ve become neighborhood eye sores, but the city is considering new rules to get the attention of these negligent property owners.

“Supposedly the new ordinance would help motivate a lot of the property owners to do a much better job of keeping up their property,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.

The proposed blight ordinance would compel property owners to maintain their property or face a big tax increase.

The rules say taxes would go by 7 times if the owner does not bring the property into compliance after being designated as blighted.

“I think it’s time that we hold people more accountable for their property. You can go through properties across the city would rather have us cut it and maintained it than them maintain it themselves,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

Code officers say the ordinance would help with out-of-town owners of blighted property that the city can have difficulty getting to court.

And while commissioners understand blight is an issue across Augusta, they say they need to understand the proposed ordinance better to determine if it will be a benefit.

“Because we still got some work to do on it but it is nevertheless a start in the right direction now, we just got to hone it,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

The proposed blight ordinance is scheduled to be unveiled to commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday.

It is just another tool in the toolbox to take on this problem. Voters have already approved four million dollars to take on blight in the city. 

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