Sumter County Board of Commissioners Appoint Shirley Green Reese to the Board of Elections

Published 10:05 am Friday, April 12, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Commissioners addressed other significant issues in addition to the lost tax revenue during their April 9th 2024 meeting.

The Board of Commissioners discussed implementing a blight ordinance in the County. Code enforcement officer Heather Tyler presented information on the City of Americus’s blight ordinance. “Blighted properties in the City limits of Americus, they go through a process, they’re notified that they are considered blight, they have to fall under certain conditions to be qualifying of it. They’re notified, and their tax is increased by a factor of seven if it’s considered blight and nothing is done about the property being in that condition.”

She talked about prevalence. “Commissioner Smith, Mr. Eaves, and I went out into the community yesterday. We were together maybe 30 minutes, and we came across several properties that fall under blighted conditions, it’s uninhabitable, it’s unsafe, abandoned.”

Tyler mentioned a meeting with the Land Bank Authority. “I did ask in the meeting last month about heir properties, and they said this is getting heir properties cleaned up in the City. I hit a brick wall in the County sometimes with heir properties.”

Commissioner Clay Jones commented. He stated there could be issues selling the property if the property was foreclosed on with high taxes due. Tyler noted that the Landbank can forgive taxes. Tyler also mentioned that they would need a resolution declaring the County had blight to pass a blight tax.

Jones commented. “What are you going to do about the farmers?”

Tyler responded. “If they are blighted, they are going to get a letter.” Tyler noted that the majority of the properties that they had seen were abandoned. Tyler also clarified limitations on a blight ordinance. “Blight is uninhabited, unsafe, or abandoned structure.” She mentioned that it covered buildings, but could not apply if they were occupied. “If someone is living in the dwelling, I cannot consider it blighted.”

The Board of Commissioners voted for Shirley Green Reese for the Board of Elections. Smith made a motion, seconded by Waddell, passing unanimously. When asked what he thought of the appointment to the Board of Elections, Commissioner Jones responded: “I’m okay with it.”

When asked if he would have preferred anyone else, he responded: “Whoever the democratic party first nominated. It’s their choice.”

Commissioner David Baldwin reported on the Humane Society: “What they are proposing is that the City and the County fund the Humane Society at the same level percentage wise that we have been.”

Baldwin gave figures. “We were putting in roughly 36%. So they took the 36% and moved it forward to the new requested amount of $299,000 to fund it for the next year, which put our portion at $107,000. So we are going from $50,000 to $107,000.”

He also mentioned preventing the need to house so many animals. “If we move forward with this, which I’m proposing that we do, we start making some better rules and choices to help stave off some of the population increase in this facility.”

He stated that according to director Ruth Olsen, they take in around 1,000 animals a year.

Baldwin mentioned that they were looking for ideas to curb population growth. “We’ve discussed everything from licensing breeders, which is actually the State law requirement. We’re talking with the USDA to help with some of those laws, anything that we can do to try and reduce the number of animals that are going into this shelter.”

Commissioner Jessie Smith asked about the Humane Societies’ budget. “So did they ever come up with their budget?”

Baldwin responded. “I got a very, very rough budget.”

Smith replied. “You don’t have an actual budget?”

Baldwin responded. “The mayor and I both agreed with this, as did the members of the board, that going forward record keeping will be essential, not just from a financial standpoint, but also where the animals are coming from, because there is a bit of a quandary as to how many the City puts into the shelter verses how many the County.”

Baldwin gave his recommendation. “I’m recommending that we commit for one year, and that a certain number of standards have to be met for us to continue beyond one year.”