The Meridian City Council spoke at length during Tuesday's work session on ways to clean up the city. Councilman Randy Hammon says the litter and derelict homes are getting out of hand, and the city needs to see improvement quickly.
"Most people in Meridian know, if you drive anywhere, you see two or three houses per block. There's probably 1,000 or 2,000 as I've said before," he says. "We just got 160 last quarter added to the process. So we're not winning. We're losing ground."
Council members discussed shortening the amount of time for property owners to clean up littered or abandoned homes from 30 to 15 days after notification. They're also looking at raising the fines for failure to comply from $25 to $75. Another issue is that the city currently has only one code enforcement officer, whose job is to watch for and enforce the city's code on these issues.
But with the list of abandoned homes and littered properties steadily growing and only one Code Enforcement Officer to handle the workload, the council is concerned this is a job too large for just one person. Now they're working to determine whether they should hire new code enforcement officers or cross-train existing employees.
Funds for new code enforcement officers would need to be allocated in next year's budget.
"A lot of us on the council believe in cross-training people we already have," Council President George Thomas says. "There's also possibly a need to hire new people in order to get all of it done. There are a lot of problems around the city, so how do you get those cleaned up as quickly as possible?"
The city council will likely discuss and vote on some of these issues at its next meeting Mar. 4.