Stone Mountain City Council will discuss ‘blight tax’

City of Stone Mountain seal on the historic railroad depot. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council on Aug. 3 will discuss whether the city should participate in a program that will tax owners of blighted properties.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held virtually. Here are the access instructions.

There is no in-person attendance to this meeting. The public can access the meeting via City of Stone Mountain – Government Facebook Live or Zoom.
Meeting ID: 867 0325 9798
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Meeting ID: 867 0325 9798
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To see the full agenda for the Aug. 3 meeting, click here.

According to a memo from City Manager ChaQuias Miller-Thornton, “The purpose of a blight tax (or community redevelopment tax incentive) program is to decrease the financial burden on local governments by helping to fund the remediation of such properties and to encourage private property owners to maintain their property. In response to this request, the City Manager has conducted an analysis of this redevelopment tool and has presented initial language in draft ordinance form for review to the City Attorney for ultimate consideration by the Governing Authority.”

She said the state of Georgia in 2002 passed legislation allowing local governments to increase taxes on blighted properties. It cannot be imposed on single family homes used as an owner’s primary residence. The program has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages include encouraging voluntary compliance with city code. But she also notes that owners of blighted properties often don’t pay their taxes.

“Although the research that is available does not conclude that a significant level of success is attained with this program, due in-part to the fact that the owners of blighted properties often do not pay the taxes on the properties anyway and there are sometimes challenges in identifying ownership to serve notice,” she said.

Still, she said the tax can be a “useful tool” for cleaning up blighted properties in the city.

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