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To stem blight, Tri-State city dangles tax hike, forced foreclosure

The goal is to attack blight before it becomes a serious problem city-wide, but the penalties could be severe.
Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:12 PM EDT
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CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - Leaders in Dayton are intent on cleaning up the city with plans to crack down on overgrown yards and rundown houses.

The homes the new program aims to target—with weeds overtaking the grass and parts of the siding falling off—are common right now in the Northern Kentucky riverfront community.

“We’re looking at about 50 properties overall in the city that we’re concerned about and want to take action on,” City Administrator Jay Fossett said.

That action started this week, when the city created the Code Enforcement Amnesty program.

“This program is designed to encourage people who have had past-due code enforcement problems to clean up their properties, and if they do, we will waive those previous fines and citations and give them a clean bill of health,” Fossett explained.

The administrator says several citations were issued this past week and that homeowners have all summer to make repairs. If some work is done, but more time is needed, homeowners can apply for a three-month extension.

“If those folks don’t fix those problems up, we’re going to charge a higher property tax rate on those properties, almost double what the normal rate is,” Fossett said.

And if there’s still no action, Fossett says the city will put a lien on the property and take it through foreclosure.

He’s hoping it doesn’t come to that. The goal of the program, he says, is to be flexible with homeowners. However, he adds they must crack down with enforcement to home repairs before the homes deteriorate in other parts of the city.

“Any time you have blighted properties, it reduces the quality of life in your community,” Fossett said. “It also has a tendency to encourage crime.”

He continued: “What you want to do is attack issues early on and get those issues fixed up. If you don’t, they can become a more serious problem for the community.”

The administrator says they are also considering adding a program where people currently living in their homes can get a loan from the city to make home repairs. That is still in the works, but they would use federal money to fund it.

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