News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta commissioners started the year off with a retreat where they discussed several new issues. But, as new commissioners introduced themselves at the table, Bill Fennoy reignited an old debate about dilapidated houses all over the city.
"You have all kinds of drug deals going on. You have a lot of prostitution going on. You have people breaking into these houses and stealing whatever they can take ... my neighbor, she complains about rats, roaches and other things that are coming from this dilapidated property. "
So far, 22 dilapidated homes around the city have been torn down, but there are several more still standing.
"I took photos of about 60 or 70 dilapidated houses within 30 minutes. They came from one part of District 1," Fennoy said.
The commission approved $500,000 to start this project, but they'll need millions to finish it. The money was approved to be spread out through the different districts.
"We are going to have a lot of houses still torn up. We don't have nearly the amount of money we need to take care of all of them," Commissioner Alvin Mason pointed out.
Mason says all options are on the table to provide funding once it runs out.
"We will have to look at all avenues. If you are a good business person and you want to operate a good business, you have to look at all avenues," Mason said. "Taxes are something that could be looked at."
"I would like to sit down and talk with commissioners about the best way to rid ourselves of it without raising taxes," Fennoy said.
Commissioners say there's a lot of legal red tape that slows the process in getting rid of all those eyesores.