HARKER HEIGHTS — City Council members on Tuesday approved extending an amnesty program for several paving and utility assessment bills that have been delinquent and racking up interest for almost four decades.
The city’s existing amnesty program expired Monday.
The council voted to extend the program until October 2014.
“People actually agreed and signed to pay for these improvements by ordinance,” said City Manager Steve Carpenter. “The majority of people paid their assessments off 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.”
As of Friday, three utility assessments and five paving assessments totaling more than $44,000 remained on the city books from projects that were completed in 1974 and 1988.
The three properties with utility assessments are in Wildwood Acres, a subdivision of vacant lots, mobile homes, duplexes and small single-family homes on the south side of Harker Heights. Five properties with delinquent paving assessments are on East Stacie, West Nolan and East Cardinal.
“The city mails monthly past-due notices religiously to property owners,” said Financial Director Alberta Barrett, adding that many are returned undeliverable. “The amnesty program allows people to settle 25- and 39-year-old paving and utility assessments while paying only four years’ interest.”
But with the amnesty program, more than $6,000 in fees will be waived for each of the properties. During the amnesty period, only four years of interest are due on the assessments with no additional interest accrued.
“Some property owners have died, and their heirs remain unaware that they have property or that there are liens on them,” Barrett said of why she wanted to extend the amnesty program so she could continue to reach out and find next of kin.
Originally, Barrett only wanted to extend the program through December, but Councilman Pat Christ made the motion to extend it for a year, which the council unanimously approved.