Denison residents with mowing liens on their property will be getting some relief from the city in the near future.
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said the city had accumulated over 7,000 liens on houses since the 1990s and has begun a new Mowing Lien Relief Program to allow property owners to settle their debt by removing the accrued interest. He said most of the older liens are made up largely of interest at this point.
“We want to give folks an opportunity to clear up their debt,” Rex said. “We will do it for one month out of the year. We will run this during the month of May. That will give folks time to get things cleared up.”
Rex said the city has known about the problem for a while, but it became extra apparent once records became digital. He said the primary concern comes from the liens getting in the way of developing on properties. The city will offer one month for property owners to clear up their debt. Rex explained the interest will be forgiven as long as the property owner settles the principal debt, which would cover Denison’s costs of the mowing service performed.
“We have plenty of people who do pay while there are a lot who don’t,” Rex said. “The relief program is really meant to help clear up those liens from the past. We have a lot of out of state and out of city property owners who may not even realize they have a lien — that’s not going to help them. Those who are local that know they have a lien, it’s just too much for them to handle.”
Rex said the issue arises when a property owner doesn’t mow their yard in accordance with city ordinances. If the city has to send staff out to mow the lawn, the property owner gets a bill. If the owner doesn’t pay the bill, the city puts a lien on the property, which accumulates interest at a rate of 10 percent a year. Rex said in some cases the amount of interest on the property can be prohibitive when the owner goes to sell the property or develop it later.
The city manager explained the biggest challenge for Denison is finding out who owns all the property in question. He said the city has records of which properties have liens but doesn’t know who all the property owners are for them. Rex said the city will send out notices to the public to encourage the owners to respond.
Under the new program, property owners that miss their window to have their interest forgiven will have another chance the following year. Rex said the city also offers a separate program for property owners who are selling for the purpose of development.