Commonwealth Journal

June 10, 2014

Property cleanups costly for county

by Jeff Neal
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Pulaski County Fiscal Court and the Pulaski Solid Waste Department have a growing problem.
The cost of cleaning up abandoned property surpassed the $50,000 mark at the first of the year and continues to soar.
Pulaski Solid Waste Coordinator Gerald Hines discussed the matter during yesterday’s meeting of Pulaski Fiscal Court.
“We have an ordinance in place that deals with these issues, but we have to enforce it,” Hines said.
The ordinance calls for the eventual sale of property that has to be maintained by the county. But there is no set timetable for when that should happen.
Hines pointed out that the county has been maintaining a property on Carroll Street since 2005.
“The enforcement of this ordinance seems to die in the discussion process,” Hines said. “We’ve asked (the solid waste board attorney) and the county attorney to sell, sell, sell. That’s all we can do.
“Maybe the answer is to re-work the ordinance so there is a timetable built in,” Hines added. “Right now, it just goes on and on. We have over $53,000 on the books and we should have less than $10,000.”
Assistant county attorney Greg Ousley pointed out there would be costs associated with selling the property off. 
“There’s no way of telling if we could get any of that money back without doing a title search and see how many creditors are in line,” Ousley said.
But the legal fees may pale to the rising costs of maintaining the properties.
“We might not get any of that money back, but at least we could stop the bleeding if we sell the property,” said magistrate Glenn Maxey. “I just can’t see us continuing to take care of properties for years with the mounting costs.”
Hines said vacant lots were mowed three a times a year, while properties in subdivisions with houses are mowed once a month.
“We’ve been told to try and locate the owners, but sometimes that’s impossible,” Hines said. “Our letters get sent back and we continue mowing. It goes on and on.
“I know we have a responsibility to eliminate eye sores from the community,” Hines added. “But there has to be an end to it. We need to get together and decide how we can sell off these properties.”
In other news from fiscal court, Magistrates voted to adopt the $29.87 million 2014-15 budget. Treasurer Joan Issacs said there were a few “minor changes” to the budget after the first reading, but nothing substantial.
Here are the funding totals included in the budget:
• Total General Fund: $13,701,149.00
• Total Road Fund: $5,664,031.00
• Total Jail Fund: $3,341,461.00
• Total L.G.E.A. Fund: $550,500.00
• Total Fire Protection Fund: $2,633,500.00
• Total Industrial Development Fund: $1,548,000.00
• Emergency Dispatch Fund: $1,928,690.00
• Economic Development Fund: $7,220.00
• Total Federal Grant Fund: $5,000
• Grand Total All Funds: $29,874,811.00.
Jeff Neal is the news editor of the Commonwealth Journal. He can be reached at: