Meridian City Council Aims to Clean Up Urban Areas

Plans are underway for the 2015 budget, and now is the time when the Meridian City Council must decide where to allocate the city's funds. And since Ward 5 Councilman Randy Hammon has been in office, he's continued to push for funding in areas where the city is falling apart - toward empty homes and overgrown properties.

"It's not just about abandoned homes," he explains. "It's about homes that need to be in repair and upgraded to make the neighborhoods livable to attract new people into the city. And we have to change that."

Hammon says the city has the money to move forward with this project; it's just a matter of stepping up.

"The money has always been there, but it's been allocated in other areas I know we have salary problems. We have a lot of other problems. But this department is so under-funded that the money to come up with for this department would not be a big task."

He says putting money toward the city's urban decay would eventually save funding intended for other areas like the police and fire departments. He says other cities have discovered that these derelict properties are the root of even more problems.

"The impact's already there, he says. "We have more crime and more fire. And we have to beef up those departments because every city that's done this has realized two things. You can reduce crime, fire, all those sorts of things by anywhere from 14 to 34 percent over 7 years."

Hammon says Meridian's population is decreasing: from 45,000 to 40,000 over the past 10 years. He believes that taking this issue to heart and making the right investments could push the city forward, and eventually grow the population.

"It all adds up to one thing," he says. "Our city has to have a change. We cannot continue to lose tax base."

He says the other cities who have implemented similar plans are seeing $1.50 for every $1 invested.