After allocating nearly $140,000 to the Property Maintenance department, officials say that the commitment is paying off. The department is inspecting more property complaints, closing cases faster and working toward the city’s goal of demolishing dilapidated structures.
At a special called meeting of the Owensboro Board of Commissioners, Public Works director Wayne Shelton provided an update on the City’s property maintenance department.
According to Shelton, last year, the City received 1,289 complaints on properties for reasons ranging from overgrown grass and weeds, visible trash at the residence, overgrown trees and run-down structures. With that high of a volume, the department had a hard time keeping up with inspections and the required follow ups.
By hiring an additional inspector, Property Maintenance was able to close more inspection cases with a 79 percent compliance rate. In June 2018 the department had 231 open complaints. In July 2019 only 46 were listed as open.
Demolition rates have also increased with the additional budget allocation. In 2018 the City demolished seven structures compared to the 15 they have already taken down in 2019 with an anticipated 10 more to come down this year.
“These dilapidated structures not only present aesthetic and health concerns, but they affect the safety of our first responders,” Shelton said.
Shelton told the board of commissioners that their investment in his department has made a significant impact.
“The removal of these structures is key for community revitalization,” he said.
Despite the progress that has been made so far in 2019, Shelton said there are still 100 structures on the list that need to be demolished.
“It’s sad, but true,” he said. “That list continues to grow.”
Shelton also told the commission to expect a request to update the property maintenance ordinance in the coming weeks.
“It’s been a decade since the maintenance ordinance has been updated,” he said.
Shelton said the ordinances are limiting to his department and are to blame for a lot of the delays in inspections, demolitions and some situations where action could not be taken but should.