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Abandoned home a blight for community
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Citing a constrained budget, the Covington City Council did not take action on a request from District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson to purchase an abandoned home adjacent to the Nelson Heights Community Center.

Henderson petitioned the council at its Monday night meeting to consider purchasing the abandoned property, saying the home, which lies open to the elements, had become a drug den and the site of dog fighting.

According to a report from the Newton County Board of Tax Assessors, the abandoned property, located at 7248 Laseter Street, is listed as belonging to Michael Fabrikant & Associates Inc. The property has a total value of $47,600 and an assessed value of $19,040.

Mayor Kim Carter said because of budget constraints the city was unable to purchase the property at this time. City Manager Steve Horton said he believed the city already tried to have that particular property brought up to code but the property owner failed to attend a court hearing on the matter. Horton said the city would continue to pursue bringing the property up to code.

According to the city's housing ordinances, if a house is vacant, the property owner has the responsibility of securing the home from illegal entry by closing and locking all doors and by closing all windows.

Carter said the council, again due to budget constraints would be unable to provide a full-time D.A.R.E. officer to be stationed at the Nelson Heights Community Center once it opened as requested by Henderson. Carter said she believed there would be opportunities in the future for the Covington Police Department to send officers out to the center for special presentations to the community.

In other council news:

The council voted to amend its 2007 budget to include an additional $93,886 from hotel/motel taxes. The addition of a new hotel to the city, which brought in an additional $73,000 in taxes over budgeted revenue, was the primary reason for the necessary amendment.

The city council voted to designate the section of Usher Street from Pace Street to Elm Street a 'no parking any time' zone.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams was elected by the council to serve as its first mayor pro tem elect. The mayor pro tem elect will temporarily act as mayor in the event that both the mayor and the mayor pro tem are unable to do so.

The council approved a $1,372 invoice from the Newton County Board of Commissioners for the city's share of Geographical Information Systems support.