Collins leaders have taken legal steps to clean up the city.
During the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen at Collins City Hall Tuesday, June 4, 2019, a list of 32 dirty, overgrown, or unkept properties were presented. Property owners were required to mow grass, pick up trash, or otherwise clean their lots or face hefty penalties from the city.
Several property owners packed the board room and lobby before and during the meeting. About 10 of them cleaned their land before the meeting and made an appearance to be sure they were now good. Another nine didn’t show up at the meeting, but Public Works Director Bob Shoemake was able to confirm to Mayor Hope Jones, City Clerk Suzette Davis, and the board that they had cleaned their lots. A couple others had started cleaning, but were told to do more. Nearly 10 others were not at the meeting and did not complete any improvements with a couple of them telling the city to “do what you needed to do,” as quoted in the meeting.
Many of those in attendance at the meeting offered reasons to city leaders why the lots were in such bad shape. For example, the owner of one lot is now in assisted living care. A son said he cleaned up the yard, but doesn’t want to put too much effort into cleaning or repairs at this time.
“I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on it and then them take it away from us (to pay for a nursing home),” the man said.
Another property owner said she has spoken with Fire Chief John Pope about burning the house down for training. Pope wasn’t at the meeting, but the Mayor said she isn’t aware of that conversation, and questioned whether or not the city can do that, anyway.
Even for the lots that are now clean, the owners will remain on the list for one year. If any of those lots become dirty or overgrown again, just like the ones that haven’t been cleaned yet, Shoemake’s team can now go onto private property, clean it, and bill the services directly to property taxes.
In other city business, the board approved July 4 and 5th as city holidays due to a proclamation from the governor’s office, approved $26,258.30 for the purchase of a foam system for the fire department with $25,000 of that to be reimbursed by a Homeland Security grant, approved beer and light wine sales at the Family Dollar located at 816 Main Street, discussed some repairs needed on the outside of the Civic Center, discussed a scheduled power outage in late June or early July to replace equipment (details will be published in The News-Commercial when they are available), approved a speed limit of 35 miles per hour for the entire length of Fir Avenue with the exception of 25 miles per hour in school zones, and approved the purchase of flashing school zone signs for the lowest bids.