Vanderburgh County Health Officials Seek the Power to Fine Property Owners For Not Cleaning Up After Meth Incidents
In yet another effort to combat to combat the meth epidemic, the Vanderburgh County Health Department is working to implement an ordinance that will give them some recourse over property owners that do not clean up their properties after meth related occurrences.
The County Commissioners will meet on August 7 to discuss county ordinance 07-012-005, which if approved would give health officials the authority to slap property owners with hefty penalties for failing to clean up their residence after meth busts.
The first draft of the proposed ordinance was passed by unanimous vote when it appeared on the table at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting.
The suggested ordinance is not new – it is actually a localized version of a state ordinance that was put in place in 2007 that requires property owners to have a work crew certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management clean up their meth contaminated homes.
Local health officials say the state law isn’t much good without local support, and that is one reason they are looking to implement the ordinance on a local level – suggesting there is a need for stricter enforcement options other than pursuing costly lawsuits.
To date the Vanderburgh County Health Department has 43 open cases of meth contaminated properties – just part of the 176 on the books dating back to 2008.
Health officials say that if the ordinance passes, they will be able to hand out citations starting at $1,000 per offense per year to property owners after 30 days for failure to comply – up to $2,000 for three offenses per year.
The goal of the new ordinance is to help restore homes back to livability and encourage property owners to write stricter rental agreements for their tenants.
Vanderburgh County leads the state in meth related incidents – 116 in 2011 – and with 41 meth incidents this year the situation does not appear to be getting any better.