Brian Edwards, Montgomery Advertiser – The Public Works Department unveiled a new aggregation database that pulls together property records, 311 calls and many more sets of information at a Montgomery City Council work session Tuesday. Council members and city workers hope it will reduce blight and streamline their efforts to root out bad landlords and absentee owners.
The Tolemi database contains information on 83,244 properties registered in the city of Montgomery, where more than 71,000 buildings sit.
Of those, 2,115 structures that are not owner-occupied and are without power and sanitation. Chris Conway, head of Public Works, said those buildings would be their best estimate, at this time, of how many residential structures are currently vacant. They will also be able to pull information about state ownership, building permits, housing code enforcement, planning and zoning, 311 service, business licenses, crime stats, fire rescue data, GIS data, census data and utility data.
“We are able to dial down to a level and come up with an internal registry of properties that we can manage on a case-by-case basis,” Conway said.
Council members, who often struggle with the decrepit properties in their districts, asked Conway about the possibility of an annual cost estimate for caring for those properties. With that, they possibly could allocate discretionary funds on a regular basis for neighborhood associations to maintain those properties or send city workers to cut them and assess the costs to owners.
Mayor Todd Strange, at a previous meeting, said they spent around $1 million for the prior year on maintaining properties. With the release of the data, city officials questioned the need for Councilman Tracy Larkin’s proposed ordinance to create a registry and fine system for vacant properties in the city that was to be voted on at Tuesday’s full council meeting.