Spending freeze puts a halt to city lot maintenance

Because of a city spending freeze, city-owned lots and buildings are not being maintained. The city acquired this building at Jos. Campau and Goodson where weeds are out of control.



By Charles Sercombe

          City Councilmember Cathie Gordon may have lost her bid to become mayor, but don’t expect her to fade away.

          “I am not going to be a lame duck,” she told The Review.

          As proof, she is threatening to take matters in her hand and get rid of tall weeds that are growing around a city-owned building on Jos. Campau and Goodson.

          The building is a failed loft development that the city acquired. The Community & Economic Development Department is currently figuring out what to do with it.

          Gordon said weeds not only make the building look bad, it’s blighting the area.

          “It makes the whole block look like crap,” Gordon said in her own blunt style.

          She also said that city-owned lots have become overgrown and weed-infested. It’s hypocritical, Gordon said, to have city code enforcers ticketing property owners for allowing their lawns to be overgrown while the city is just as guilty.

“How do you penalize people when we do the same thing?” she said.

Now that the city is being run by an emergency manager, the council has no say in how to budget city finances for lot maintenance. But the council did have an opportunity to fund a program to keep lots clean and trimmed.

          That was back in June, before the EM arrived and the council still had a voice in financial decisions. At that time the council was voting on a new city budget that included a special fee that would have been tacked onto water bills and raised $100,000 a year.

          That money would have been set aside for lot maintenance, but the council decided against the fee and withdrew that plan.

          Emergency Manager Cathy Square has since called for a spending freeze. It’s unclear if money will be freed up in the near future to tackle the problem.

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