More than seven months into the city’s lien amnesty program, one of 11 debts has been paid, said Ayesha Lealiiee, assistant finance director. Five utility and five paving assessments remain delinquent.
Killeen builder James Herring paid a 24-year-old utility assessment for 933 Maplewood St. in October, after buying the property, he said. He split the lot into two, and plans to build duplexes on each site.
“One of the things (buyers) do is search for liens,” Lealiiee said. “That’s something that most buyers want paid before buying that property.”
The amnesty program allows people to settle 25- and 39-year-old paving and utility assessments while paying only four years’ interest, Lealiiee said. It will end Sept. 30.
Herring contacted the owner of two properties to no avail. “He’s not trying to sell them for some reason,” Herring said.
Some property owners have died, and their heirs remain unaware of the liens, Herring said.
May’s city manager’s report shows the outstanding balance on paving and utility assessments is more than $44,000, about $6,000 less than it was seven months ago.
Lealiiee said any delinquencies after Sept. 30 will be treated the same as they were before October 2012.
“They’ll start accruing interest again,” she said.
The city usually collects unpaid liens whenever the associated property is sold, said City Manager Steve Carpenter.
“Historically, the city waits for those properties to be settled,” said City Attorney Burk Roberts.
Herring expressed concern that the properties’ tax values would climb higher than home values, prompting city officials to put tax liens on the properties.
“I don’t think we’ve ever put a tax lien on a property,” Carpenter said.
Builders, including Herring, have asked the council to excuse existing liens, but the council’s stance is that people should participate in the amnesty program, Carpenter said.
The debts stem from paving and utility improvements, Carpenter said.
“People actually agreed to (paying for improvements) by ordinance,” Carpenter said. “The majority of people paid their assessments a long time ago. For whatever reason, some people haven’t. … If you excuse the entire lien, it’s not fair to those who did what they said they were going to do.”