Budget at top of the list for Sen. Ramsey

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

CONYERS -- State Sen. Ronald Ramsey spoke with the Citizen last week about the 2011 General Assembly and his plans to propose a foreclosure registry law.

Legislators were in recess this week for budget hearings.

The Democrat attended the mayor's State of the City address Wednesday and talked with the Citizen after the event.

He said Georgia's budget shortfall will be a big issue this year, quoting an expected $1.5 billion to $2 billion deficit.

"It appears that the new governor has a clear focus on his strategy for reaching a balanced budget," Ramsey said, mentioning proposals to streamline government and reinvest in education. "I'm really pleased to hear what he said thus far and look forward to working with him in keeping those commitments."

Ramsey said "the deterioration of our communities by the blight of foreclosures" is one key concern of his and he is working on draft legislation to address the issue.

He wanted to see a foreclosure registry where cities and counties could have the authority to take over foreclosed properties after trying to work with banks and other finance companies. The governments would be able to resell the properties to make up for the fees that have accrued, according to Ramsey.

His draft legislation would also require someone to be responsible for the property.

"That agent would be the one that's accountable to the cities and the counties for keeping that property in responsible condition, and when they fail to do that, then the code enforcement agents can take that issue to court, the judge will rule, impose fines and the fines will accrue until it gets to a set amount," Ramsey said. "Then the city or the county, in my view, should have the authority to say, 'You've abandoned this property. Now, we own it and we'll keep our communities going forward and thriving.'"

Ramsey was recently selected as the Urban Affairs Committee chairman, a position he said will benefit the local community. The committee will serve as "a catch-all committee for any issue that needs to be streamlined," he said.

The transportation bill, passed in part last year, is another issue on his radar. The bill will split the state into regions to work on transportation projects and it will levy a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects within newly defined special tax districts. His concerns about the bill include possible double taxation for counties and whether any of the projects funded through the tax would benefit District 43.

"So if I don't see it's going to benefit us, I can't ask our citizens to vote for it," Ramsey said.

The senator said he was pleased to represent Conyers, "an award-winning city with extraordinary leadership."

"I mean, it's just been consistent," Ramsey said of the city government. "Clearly, I think it's a model for the state and the nation."