- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
The Paris City Council has decided to make a one-time withdrawal of $400,000 from its cash reserves and undertake a methodical tearing down of every dilapidated house in the city.
Taking down the city’s scores of dilapidated houses is something that council members have been talking about for years without making much progress, Mayor AJ Hashmi said during a special meeting Wednesday evening.
“With small amounts of money, one home is brought down, and another home is brought down, and the city is still full of dilapidated homes and dilapidated buildings,” the mayor said.
“I think it requires a lot of guts on the part of the council to make a brave decision today, but I am going to make the motion and I would request that my motion be supported,” Hashmi said.
“This will affect the entire community. We have plenty of homes that need to be demolished, and we will see a clear difference in the community and our city when we do that.”
The average tear-down cost is about $4,000, which means an infusion of $400,000 would allow the city to take down all 100 or so houses that the city’s Building and Standards Commission has marked for demolition.
District 3 councilman John Wright seconded the motion, getting in just ahead of District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster, and the council voted 6-0 for the mayor’s proposition.
At Wright’s request, Hashmi amended his motion to include instructions to city manager John Godwin to bargain with the city’s demolition contractor, Sanitation Solutions, for a discounted rate because of the increased work being thrown the company’s way.
The vote, with councilman Matt Frierson out of town, came shortly before the city manager unveiled his proposed 2012-2013 budget.
Godwin had $100,000 penciled in for demolitions in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The city manager recommended that the council leave that in place.
At Hashmi’s request, city finance director Gene Anderson had prepared a spreadsheet showing the city’s projected cash on hand as of Sept. 30 to be approximately $13.2 million — $9.4 million in the general fund and $3.8 million in the water and sewer fund.
“That is the amount that the city holds currently as cash. However, out of that, there are some committed funds, and what we have as our money currently is about $10.9 million,“ Hashmi said.
Anderson has said it is prudent to keep at least 25 percent of operating capital in reserve — enough to handle three months of the city‘s expenses in an emergency. On Godwin’s proposed 2012-2013 budget of $21.9 million, that works out to be about $5.5 million.
“I’m very happy that the city has been managed well and has well in excess of three months of reserves,” Hashmi said.
The mayor said the $400,000 is to be used only on dilapidated housing — not on buildings downtown.
“I think we have to come up with a distinct set of ideas for substandard buildings downtown. The demolition of downtown buildings is going to require a lot more money,” Hashmi said.
send questions about this article to