City should approve LMA suggestion

Published 6:45 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

We were happy to see the most recent town hall meeting generate a clear, easy and actionable plan to reduce weedy, overgrown residential lots.

No one likes neglected lots, and Ronnie Harris, the executive director of the Louisiana Municipal Association, presented a path to clean up the yards, bill the owners and get the city’s money back for the effort. In short, Harris’ plan would be a win for our community.

We hope our city council will vote to approve the plan on Tuesday.

To be clear, approving the suggested ordinances does not and will not change anything at first. Bogalusa will have to wait until several other communities in the state demonstrate success with the LMA program before the program will accept any work from our city. This means our leaders will have a chance to see for themselves firsthand how well the program works.

Even assuming everything goes well and the LMA program agrees to begin working on Bogalusa homes, the city would begin small, and only submit a few homes to the LMA process. And, if we don’t like the system, our city can back out of the process at any time.

In short, the stakes are low all around.

Some critics have argued that our city should be able to operate a penalty system to pressure homeowners to clean up their lots, similar to the system Harris described. However, in small communities, setting up internal offices that focus solely on weeds and grass enforcement is impractical. Also, as others have noted, the city can’t offer the same legal services as the LMA, which is partnering with CivicSource, a tax auction company, for part of the program.

We remind our readers that critics said CivicSource was offering a service the city could perform itself and yet until CivicSource began working with the city to auction off adjudicated properties, the city hadn’t managed to auction off anything.

There is nothing wrong in working with outside agencies for civic improvement. On the other hand, there is something wrong with ignoring help when it’s needed.