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Baker seeks budget bump
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McMinnville officials continued discussions on proposed departmental budgets for fiscal year 2014-15 on Tuesday, including the need to add approximately $10,000 to the budget of the city’s Planning and Zoning Department to remove unfit structures.
“I do need to add a line item to my budget, if possible,” said Planning and Zoning Department manager Josh Baker. “It would be for solid waste. Public Works would like for us to start taking care of the disposal fee for the removal of unfit structures and junk when we have to go in and clean a property up or tear a house down. All the material has to go to       Southern Central and there are some pretty substantial fees to it. Public Works has been paying that for us, but they would like for us to start doing that. I would like to put $10,000 in that.”
The department attempts to recoup the city’s cost by placing a lien on the property. Baker says that is a lengthy process that does not always work.
When unwanted homes are not bought at the tax sale, they become city-owned properties and the buildings are removed. The city can either sell the property or donate the land to a nonprofit organization. In the past, the city has donated land to Warren County Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds homes and provides zero-interest loans for the financing.
 The city will soon be the owner of one such house. It was used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
 “We are going to end up with a house right now that’s going to be city property,” said Baker. “It will need to be torn down. It’s been a meth house. If I have to pay that, we are looking at $8,000 right there. It’s a big house. If that needs to come out of my budget, we need to take the line item up to $20,000.”
There is little hope of recouping the cost of cleaning up properties where homeowners violate the city’s policy against outside storage and the city has to remove the items, says Baker.
“If we go in and clean excessive junk off a property, we may never get that,” he said. “They may be paying their taxes. We still put it a lien on the property. If they ever sell the property, we will get it. Normally, they never sell their property.”
The proposed budget was passed at $308,475, without an additional $10,000 for the removal of the house that was used during the manufacture of methamphetamine.