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Thomson City Council considers purchase of house to re-sell

A new concept of homeownership may be on its way to Thomson.

During their monthly council meeting at city hall last Thursday night, city officials discussed the idea of the city purchasing, renovating and selling a home on Railroad Street. The idea drew mixed reactions from council members - one of whom was adamantly opposed to such a concept.

"I'd hate to see us get into the real estate business," said Councilman John T. Wiley. "We don't need to be getting into that business."

City Administrator Don Powers mentioned that he and Bob Flanders, former city administrator, had discussed the idea of the city possibly purchasing a house at 524 Railroad Street, refurbishing it and then selling it. The property currently is owned by the William L. Mauldin family.

The city could use HODAG funding to purchase and rehabilitate the house, Mr. Powers said. The money in the HODAG account can only be used for such a project, the city official said.

City Clerk Dianne Landers said the HODAG account, which stands for Housing Development Action Grant, has approximately $230,000 in its account. The grant is administered through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

Already, city officials in Aiken, S.C., as well as Savannah, have incorporated the idea, Ms. Landers said.

The two bedroom house, which has a loft, living room, kitchen, laundry room and two storage sheds, consists of approximately 1,000 square feet and could be purchased for $25,000. It currently has a county tax evaluation of $22,868, Mr. Powers said.

The idea, according to Mr. Powers, is to take an old house, fix it up, sale it and have it placed back on the tax rolls.

"We thought this might be a good test case," said Mr. Powers, referring to the property on Railroad Street.

The city administrator said he and others want to make sure it doesn't become rental property, citing the possibility that it could blight the area instead of enhancing the area of where a new city/county government building is planned for the future.

Mr. Powers suggested that if the house were purchased by the city, it might be renovated and then sold to a city employee - giving one of them the opportunity to become a new homeowner. He mentioned that it was just an idea that he and Mr. Flanders had discussed with each other.

"We'd like to test the waters to see how it would go," said Thomson Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Usry, who presided over the council meeting in the absence of Mayor Robert E. Knox, Jr., who was out of town. "I think the thought process behind this idea is to merely try it."

Mr. Usry indicated that he, too, has some reservations about the suggestion.

Councilman Jaye Jones made a motion to table any further discussion or action on the subject until the next council meeting. The Rev. John Smalley, also a member of city council, seconded the motion.

Web posted on Thursday, July 19, 2007

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