Killeen nearly doubled the number of liens collected in the 2013 fiscal year, thanks in part to a new “collections specialist position.”
Leslie Hinkle, director of community development, said the city collected more than $157,200 — $70,000 more than the $87,000 collected in 2012. More than $66,800 has been collected so far this year.
Hinkle said a lien collections specialist position was created in FY 2013 to collect the outstanding liens.
“This person focuses primarily on the task (of) collecting on these liens,” she said. “She researches and obtains current owner information so the proper notification can be made by mail, and it has proven very effective.”
She said 459 liens were collected in 2013, and 412 have been collected to date in the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. About 4,000 liens are outstanding.
“There was no lien collections specialist position prior to February 2013, so there was not a focus on collection after the lien was recorded,” Hinkle said.
Collected funds go into the city’s general fund to be used for city services. Based on an average of $200 per case file, about $800,000 is outstanding. Sixty-three properties were sent to the Bell County Tax Appraisal District for future sheriff sales.
“Once a property is delinquent for three years or more in property taxes, the tax appraisal district can begin the process of initiating a suit against the property owner,” Hinkle said.
If the property doesn’t sell once it is placed on the sheriff’s sale list, it’s placed in trust to the tax appraisal district. At that point, the city can pursue the property.
“The city can take an interest in the property and proceed with approaching other taxing entities ... to request waiver of their tax interest so the city can obtain the property and bank it for redevelopment or other uses,” Hinkle said.
Fourteen properties were identified as potential land bank properties.
“The program is doing really well,” Hinkle said. “We anticipate more success.”