BONIFAY - Without a code enforcement board to focus on derelict properties, often complained about blight around the city used to be an ongoing one. However, Bonifay Mayor James Sims announced he had two-and-a-possible volunteers to serve on a new code enforcement board.
The number, which is more like three, brings the city to just two members shy for the requirement of establishing the board. At the next council meeting, Sims plans to recommend the appointments of the three.
"It's going to clean up properties, take care of snake hazards ... where there's varmints living ... enhance people's property value," Sims said. "We think it's going to enhance the aesthetic appearance and also make everybody feel better in Bonifay."
For example, at Monday night's council meeting, the council discussed that it had been more than two years since the city has attempted to get a single residential property cleaned up to code.
Department heads and council members discussed how to draw the property, belonging to a Patel, into compliance. While Sims said the structure in question "needs to be taken down," councilman Roger Brooks urged the police chief to make the citation, which is a closer step toward the city administering a lien.
The citation compounds to $250 from the first to third citation. The city can issue the lien after 60 days.
Although the council did get the ball rolling toward mitigating the blight for that single property, the process would be held at a higher priority had a code enforcement board been in place.
"You have to follow the letter of the law ... it has taken (the council) this long to accomplish this," Sims said. "This will expedite (that process) with the board now, where things will be done quicker."
To join the new board, call Bonifay City Hall at 850-547-4238. On the all-volunteer five-member board, one person will serve one year, two for two years and two for three years.
In other business, the council opened bids for a project for the paving of 17 roads. However, after learning that the bids came back higher than desired, the council voted to prioritize the most important roads - which could possibly shorten the list - and negotiate the cost down with whichever company is found to be most suitable.
"It's a little bit over the amount of money we have," Sims said. "The bids were a little bit hire ... we want to get all 17 roads completed, but we have to make sure we can afford it too."
The council has about $233,000 in local option gas tax to use toward the project. Although it had estimated upwards of $400,000 to complete - with the plan to borrow the difference between available dollars and the chosen bid - council members are seeking to simply reduce and revisit the item by next meeting.
Also at the meeting, the council prioritized Ethridge Road over Hubbard Street as the "most critical" road to be repaired.
"You're going to lose your City Hall if you don't do something to it," said City Superintendent Jack Marell.
"It's a safety issue and it is a drainage issue because water is not flowing," said City Clerk Beverly Gilley.
It is not yet clear how much the repairs will cost.