Usually when you hear someone say they can see both sides of a question, it’s either a copout or the speaker is running for political office and doesn’t want to offend anyone.
But that wasn’t the case last week when the Rockdale City Council split right down the middle on the question of whether to forgive the $2,000 lien placed on a piece of property, where the city had recently torn down a dilapidated home, to assist someone who wants to purchase the site and has pledged to clean it up.
The council split 3-3. As is his duty in the city charter, Mayor Larry Jones cast the deciding vote, against the proposal to forgive the lien.
Both sides made excellent cases. Councilwoman Melody Dawson pointed out the city has been pushing beautification, and has taken several positive steps toward cleaning up eyesores, in recent years. Forgiving the lien would be a step toward supporting residents who want to do just that. And she’s right.
Councilman Doug Calame, and Mayor Jones, said they were wary of using tax money collected from all citizens to benefit one, unless it’s through a separate entity specifically created for that purpose like the municipal development district. “Come clean up my place and let someone else pay for it” or “come clean up the place I want to buy and let someone else pay for it.” They’re right, too.
In the end, involving another split vote, the city also decided to set up a procedure whereby persons who feel they can justify demolition/cleanup lien forgiveness can go before the city on a case-by-case basis.
That’s going to be tricky. You can be sure both those quite valid arguments will come up again.
And they should. It won’t hurt to keep one thing in mind. Everyone is trying sincerely to get it right.—M.B.