Four White County residents spoke against a previously passed resolution by the County Commission during Monday’s meeting.
The resolution of discussion creates a new White County Health and Safety Board and the appointment of a Codes Enforcement Officer. The purpose to regulate county property conditions such as garbage and overgrown vegetation.
Tanya Rust of Sparta was one of those against the resolution.
“It’s a one size fits all model, which is in a perfect world” Rust said. “We’ll all make the same amount of money. We’ll all want the same colors of our houses, and we’ll all be well off enough to repair things and have things hauled away that is necessary. I feel like it is a tax on the already poor.”
County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said the resolution is meant to protect residents, not tax the poor.
“It is health and safety,” Robinson said. “It is basically trash and burnt houses. Those are the two things we are trying to go after. We’re having a problem with basically mini landfills. That’s what we are trying to go after. Some people spoke tonight against it. They were speaking against something that it doesn’t do, so that tells me there is a lot of misinformation out there. We would like to get that squared away.”
The resolution was originally passed last August and is currently at the state level to be voted on by the General Assembly. It includes the International Property Maintenance Code and allows fines for property violations.
Dan Larson was another resident that spoke to the commission. Larson said his main concern was the 10 day notice of a complaint that leads to an eventual fine if property conditions remain unchanged.
“A lot of residents in this county own property that they’re just vacation residents,” Larson said. “(…) It gives them 10 days notice, and the methods it gives… If they’re on vacation, let’s say my parents even were visiting me and Virginia for two weeks, and someone made a complaint about the property and the enforcement officer took action on it and posted everything. They could come back and they’re already in a rears for four days and have no opportunity to be notified that there is some kind of violation of this code.”
Chairman Stanley Neal said the 10 day notice is true, but the counter does not start until the resident acknowledges the warning was received. Neal said Putnam County has similar guidelines, and also uses the International Property Maintenance Code.
If the resolution is not passed at the state level, the county commission can still vote to enforce the changes. However, Neal said the state approval would give the county more grounds on enforcement.