News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Monday June 16, 2014
Augusta, Ga (WRDW)------The city of Augusta wants to get rid of un-kept lots. Now they're coming in and cleaning up while sending the owner the bill.
The city is charging vacant lot owners $150 to come in and clean properties.
Property owners of vacant homes are calling city leaders non-stop ever since they got slapped with a new bill.
"Other friends of mine have vacant houses on lots and say we don't use water or power anything. Why are we being charged for garbage and nobody is there," asked Commissioner Grady Smith. He is one of six other commissioners that voted for the resolution that is now charging vacant lot owners.
"I was told that we were dealing with garbage. It's just like everywhere else if you want something passed through evidently, they snuck it through," said Commissioner Grady Smith.
Earlier this year, the city hired a company to come around and clean up vacant lots.
The problem is they're not asking property owners behind hand. "The fact that the commissioners are often times kept in the dark by the staff happens on a daily basis," said Owner Phillip Williams.
Williams owns six pieces of properties and few lots as well. He's upset the county charges him when he takes care of his own properties.
"I don't think the way to do that is to bill people who have vacant lots since there is nothing being picked up there," said Williams.
We're told there could be three exemptions for vacant lot owners. Those include owners of undeveloped, unoccupied and mothballed properties.
Staff tell us if there is not a building on your land and you keep the grass mowed debris off the property then you could be exempt from the $150 fee.
If there is a house or building on the property, you'll have to prove that it's not in use. Also there is a building on the property it also must meet certain code requirements.
Commissioners will hear more about the plan during the commission meeting.