The College Park City Council made progress on forming a vacancy tax subcommittee during its meeting Tuesday, defining the subcommittee’s first steps in addressing a potential citywide vacant and blighted property tax.

The council discussed forming a vacancy and blighted tax subcommittee at a Feb. 6 council meeting, but delayed any forward steps due to disagreements about the group’s composition. The council decided the subcommittee’s composition on Tuesday, as well as what members will be initially responsible for.

City staff proposed that the phase one subcommittee — which will be responsible for taking initial steps on a vacant and blighted property tax — have one voting member from each of the city’s four districts appointed by council members from those districts. The mayor will recommend a fifth member to the committee.

The phase one subcommittee will develop a clear definition of what constitutes a vacant and blighted property in College Park, the council decided on Tuesday. The subcommittee will also decide which properties in the city meet that definition, using guidance from nearby municipalities that have implemented a vacant and blighted property tax.

The phase one committee will also determine whether the terms “vacant” and “blighted” will have combined or separate definitions.

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City staff put a pause on charging the subcommittee with other responsibilities, citing worries that more objectives would be too much for one committee to consider. More charges for the subcommittee could be added in the future, according to city documents.

“Part of the conversation before was to try to keep it a little simpler on the first phase,” city manager Kenny Young said. “Once we have a definition of what we’re working with, we’d know what kind of charges you’d want to give to the second phase.”

District 3 council member Stuart Adams said he supports a simpler approach to phase one so members of the subcommittee can get accustomed to their new roles.

“There’s a learning curve that’s going to need to occur with the voting members,” Adams said.

District 3 council member John Rigg asked staff to come up with a mechanism for council members to provide feedback to the subcommittee members.

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Rigg also said that as the subcommittee receives new charges and progresses into future phases, the committee composition shouldn’t be changed.

“I don’t think that this is such a big project that we need to have two separate phases staffed by two different types of committee members,” Rigg said.

The council plans to officially establish the vacancy and blighted tax subcommittee during its next meeting on March 5.

Once formed, the committee would decide on a chairperson at their first meeting. The city clerk would assign a secretary to take notes. Representatives from the city’s planning, public services and finance department would also provide support as needed.

District 4 council member Denise Mitchell said that despite the March 5 goal, it may take more time to find suitable representatives for the subcommittee.

“This may have to be a conversation of time commitment to the committee, the purpose and being able to articulate all that to the individual and see if they’re interested,” Mitchell said. “In some districts it may be easy, but District 4, we’re just trying to do our due diligence.