Owners of 38 blighted properties in Savannah will be receiving higher property tax bills this week, as the City implements the Community Redevelopment Tax Incentive Ordinance. The Ordinance was created under the premise that owners of chronically blighted properties should not benefit from lower tax bills because the value of their property is lowered by neglect and blight. Under this Ordinance, passed by City Council in February of 2016, the City’s portion of the property tax bill for the chronically blighted property is increased by multiplying the City’s millage rate by 7.
In November of 2016, the City sent letters to the owners of 64 properties that met the chronically blighted criteria, notifying them of the new ordinance and their property’s designation as chronically blighted. Of the 64 properties which received letters, 38 remained in a chronically blighted state when assessed 2017 property taxes.
Owners can have their properties removed from the list by correcting property maintenance violations. Once the blighted designation is lifted, the property then becomes eligible for a decreased rate of taxation. At such time, the City’s normal millage rate will be cut in half for up to four years.
To be cited under the Ordinance, a property must meet at least two of the following criteria:
a) Uninhabitable, unsafe, or abandoned structure;b) Inadequate provisions for rain, ventilation, light, air, or sanitation;c) An imminent harm to life or other property caused by fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, storm, or other natural catastrophe respecting which the governor has declared a state of emergency under the state law or has certified the need for disaster assistance under federal law; provided, however, this division shall not apply to property unless the relevant public agency has given notice in writing to the property owner regarding specific harm caused by the property and the owner has failed to take reasonable measures to remedy the harm;d) A site identified by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency as a superfund site pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 9601, et seq., or having environmental contamination to an extent that requires remedial investigation or a feasibility study;e) Repeated illegal activity on the individual property of which the property owner knew or should have known; orf) The maintenance of the property is below state, county, or municipal codes for at least one year after written notice of the code violation to its owner; andg) It is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, or crime in the immediate proximity of the property.