Yazoo City’s building inspector said he’s frustrated with the breakdown in the city’s efforts to remove dilapidated properties, and he has done what he’s supposed to do to get the job done.
Russ Carter told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday that the stage has been set to have eight neglected properties cleaned up, but the street department has not followed through.
“There are eight houses that are sitting and waiting to be torn down,” Carter said. “They have been waiting for over a year now. It’s becoming very frustrating to me because I want to go ahead and start abiding by what we’ve defined as cleaning up Yazoo City.”
Carter said it’s hard for people to take the city’s efforts to clean up the community seriously when the city isn’t completing an important part of its responsibility in that effort.
“We have a cleanup day coming up on April 22, and how in the world can we promote a cleanup day when we can’t even clean up what we’ve got slated to clean up,” Carter asked. “It doesn’t sound right.”
Carter said he’s hearing complaints from residents and aldermen.
“Many people in the community are starting to complain about it,” Carter said. “They are asking me why we haven’t done anything lately.”
Carter added that most of the aldermen have been asking him why there has been no recent action.
“Actually, you’re asking the wrong person,” Carter said. “This goes back to the street department.”
Carter said he has to do a significant amount of paperwork to start the process.
“Y’all don’t really understand all the things I have to go through to get this property ready,” Carter. “Once it’s ready, then I have to wait for the street department because I have to hand it off to them. Then when I get it back to them I have to price it and give it to (City Clerk) Mario Edwards. Then I have to wait on him to get it back to me after it’s recorded at the Courthouse. It’s a long process involved on this.”
Carter said the city purchased equipment so that the street department could do the work, but nothing has been done.
“Part of the reason we got that equipment is so that we can tear those houses down and hall them away,” Carter said.
Carter added that when the process was working, and it was clear that the city was prepared to demolish dilapidated properties when owners failed to bring them up to code, some property owners would fix the problems themselves.
He said six houses that he planned to add to the list of properties that need to be demolished were taken care of by the owners.
Carter said he hopes the city will do what it takes to get the problems corrected.
“This is something that needs to be addressed because I’d like to proceed,” Carter said. “Y’all are asking me to do this, and I want to do it.”
Mayor Diane Delaware agreed.
“Our role is to get these houses taken down that have already gone through the process,” Delaware said.
Public Works Director Walter Williams said the biggest obstacle to his department’s efforts is that it is understaffed, and he doesn’t have the money in his budget to hire enough people.
Carter added that five new home have been constructed in Yazoo City, and four of them were built on properties where dilapidated homes were removed.