Bibb County looks at new way to tackle blight

Bibb County looks at new way to tackle blight

Bibb Commissioners say blight is a problem all over the county, but they say they are running out of funds to fix the problem.

Commissioner Gary Bechtel says each commissioner has used almost all of their $1 million of blight bond funds, and he says the county is not at a place to tap into their general budget.

Now Bechtel says they are looking at SPLOST funds as a potential way to pay for cleaning up these forgotten lots. Bechtel says some commissioners want to ask legislators to amend the state SPLOST law to allow counties to use SPLOST funds for blight removal.

Shabriel Collins says Macon’s Patterson Street is an area that could use that funding.

“A hot mess. It ain’t nothing but trash,” says Collins.

Collins says her neighborhood is quickly going downhill.

“It’s really sad that they just let these buildings just sit here all burnt down. They tore this one down and that was it,” says Collins.

Collins says living next door to blight has brought some unexpected visitors to her house.

“Cut the light on and it'll take off behind the refrigerator,” says Collins, referring to a mouse.

She says rats get into her house, but she says they could go away if the county cleans up the properties.

“I wish they’d just tear them down and just rebuild something and if not just tear them down,” says Collins.

Commissioner Gary Bechtel says Collins is not alone.

“Over 3,000 properties that we've identified could be deemed blight,” says Bechtel.

He says they want to fix the problem, but they are running out of blight bond funds. He says they cannot tap into the budget, so he says some commissioners are looking at SPLOST funds.

“A little more flexibility to use those for teardowns and things like that that, really where some of the problems in some neighborhoods that we can’t address, that we don’t have the money to do it right now,” says Bechtel.

Right now, the county cannot use SPLOST funds to tear down blight, but Bechtel says some commissioners want to ask state legislators to change the SPLOST law so they can use them.

Commissioners could approve a resolution to ask legislators at Tuesdays meeting. If they do, Bechtel says state legislators would have to draft legislation and then vote on this during next year's general assembly.

If this is approved, Bechtel says they have $12 million in the SPLOST budget for blighted capital projects that they could use.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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