Time to clear away the debris!

96th House District

After a hurricane, before you rebuild, you have to clear away the debris.

Here in Hickory we are in the midst of a man-made hurricane — an economic disaster— and before we can rebuild we, literally, have to clear away the debris.

A look at our community shows what I mean: We drive by old buildings, vacant buildings, shuttered furniture factories once filled by businesses and deserted houses and mobile homes where families once lived who have left our community because there are no longer jobs for them.

Those old, vacant buildings are the debris of our economic crash. They are privately owned — so why are they a public issue?

Because public policy is standing in the way of cleaning up the debris by making the cost to demolish an antiquated factory higher than the market can bear. Here’s how it works: Recently, I requested bids to demolish a long outdated building for a client. I also asked the contractors to separate the cost of actual demolition (and transport of the debris) from the government imposed fees charged at the landfill.

When the bids came back I received a shock. The landfill fees represented half the cost — they cost as much as the demolition, the loading and the hauling away of the debris combined. Which is one reason antiquated buildings are sitting vacant instead of being removed to provide space for new buildings.

The solution is straightforward: For government to waive the landfill tipping fees for a “Spring Cleaning” so it will be easier for property owners to go to work cleaning up our community.

Imagine the result of cutting the cost of removing a dilapidated building in half. Or, to put it another way, see what happens when we get government out of the way of the private sector.

This one change in government policy would lead to construction jobs and grading jobs and trucking jobs at little public cost.

It’s an odd but logical fact: We tax those that demolish obsolete buildings — so we have streets lined with antiquated buildings which are standing in the way of revitalizing our community and rebuilding our neighborhoods into a promising future.

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