While the City of Kennesaw has picturesque settings such as Kennesaw State University and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, some residents and officials alike are becoming detracted by blighted eyesores. Over the past year, Kennesaw has been encouraging owners to clean up their property to little avail. As a result, the City Council has called upon city staff to draft an ordinance that would levy a substantial tax on owners of blighted properties.
Similar to what Marietta is proposing within their own jurisdiction just down the road, Kennesaw’s Community Redevelopment Tax Incentive Program seeks to provide what City Manager Steve Kennedy says are “stronger steps to gain cooperation.” Stronger indeed, as the current draft calls for seven times the amount of property tax millage. However, this is subject change as final adjustments have yet to be made. The money collected from the blight tax, which would be applied on a property violator’s tax bill for the following year, would go towards redevelopment purposes such as grants and low interest loans. The tax would remain active until maintenance work is completed and approved by city staff.
In order for property owners to be burdened with this large tax, an officer or building-code inspector must first deem the property as being unsafe, uninhabitable, abandoned, or an imminent hazard. This would include visible breaches of city code, neighbor complaints, illegal activity, or possibly a property that does not use city services like garbage pickup. Kennedy stated that this ordinance would be “the last of last resorts” as property owners would have to blatantly ignore the numerous steps and notices already in place.
All City Council members appear to be onboard for the ordinance as none of the City Council members opposed the ordinance during a work session last Wednesday. City Council members should be making final adjustments to it soon and possibly bringing it forward for a vote, now that the legal staff has reviewed the draft ordinance. However before it may be enacted, a required public meeting would have to be held in order to change the city’s code, meaning it will be at April before a vote is expected.