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Gainesville Community Development to continue focus on code enforcement
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Government agencies are presenting their proposals for the fiscal year 2015 budget that begins July 1.

Gainesville: Community Development Department

FY 2015 request: N/A

FY 2014 budget: $1.1 million

What’s new: FY15 funding priorities include completing the downtown master plan and finishing streetscaping along College Avenue.

Ramped-up code enforcement efforts are not expected to be hampered despite the fact Gainesville Community Development Department officials don’t expect their budget to change much in the 2015 fiscal year. 

“We were told to keep it flat,” Director Rusty Ligon said. 

City Manager Kip Padgett said he has asked all departments to keep their budget requests on par with current funding, as he expects this year’s more than $29 million general fund budget to increase only slightly next year.

The Community Development Department, which includes planning, special projects, inspections, code enforcement and housing divisions, has a budget of about $1.1 million this year. That budget is supplemented with grants and other funding sources.

During a budget presentation last week, Ligon told the Gainesville City Council that goals and funding priorities for the 2015 fiscal year include completing the downtown master plan and finishing streetscaping along College Avenue to connect it with the pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway. 

Ligon said he also hopes to identify new funding sources, such as state and federal grants, to bolster the department’s budget as it works to strengthen housing conditions in the city. A partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Hall County would help continue this effort. 

About 220 residential construction permits have been issued so far in the current fiscal year, more than in all of 2013, a sign of emerging growth throughout the city, Ligon said. 

Residential and commercial permitting covered about 30 percent of the department’s operating costs. 

As new housing and businesses have emerged, the department has focused on improving its code enforcement in the past year. 

Ligon said 2,000 violations had been addressed in recent months and targeted efforts to catch landlords who neglect their rental property and other enforcement measures would continue as a priority in the next fiscal year. 

The emphasis on code enforcement is pressing now that the department has helped the city finish annexing 115 commercial “island” properties. 

An island is a property in unincorporated Hall County that is encircled by property within the Gainesville city limits.

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