Wharton residents with liens on their property for failing to cut their grass or pull weeds will have until Sept. 15 to pay off the debt without paying the interest owed under an amnesty granted Monday by the city council.
Some of the liens date back to the start of an ordinance approved by the council in 1998.
“Since that time, the city has issued over 800 liens. After an internal audit of the active liens, it was discovered that there was over $300,000 in outstanding liens and over $600,000 in interest,” a memo to the council says.
There will be a $26 lien release fee.
“The city staff is requesting an effort to collect some of the outstanding lien debt, the city council consider approving an amnesty on the interest due on these liens,” the memo says. “It is the city staff’s request that the amnesty run through Sept. 15, 2022, forgiving the interest amount only. If approved, letters would be mailed to the current property owner listed under the Wharton Central Appraisal District (CAD), notifying them of the lien and of the amnesty.”
The council also updated its ordinances requiring property owners to maintain their yards.
“The City of Wharton has seen issues over the last couple of years arise regarding the duty to cut the growth of weeds and/or brush as outlined in the city’s code,” City Secretary Paula Favors wrote in a memo to city Manager Joe Pace and for the council’s consideration.
“What this would mean for property owners, is that they would be required to keep their grass maintained to the curb or edge of the roadway and also to the center of adjacent alleys, easements, and undeveloped streets,” she wrote.
The request was approved by the council and becomes effective June 24.
The council was supposed to hear a request to allow a variance for food trucks at a city park on Saturday for the annual Juneteenth celebration, but the item was dropped because the celebration was canceled.
Emergency Management Coordinator Ben Guanajuato said the contract for debris removal has expired and he wants a new one in place now that hurricane season has started.
“Contracts for debris removal services and debris monitoring services have expired thus requiring new services to be procured,” he wrote in a memo. “It is my recommendation, at this time, that a consultant selection committee be created and advertisements be posted for the procurement of debris removal services and debris monitoring services for the City of Wharton as the 2022 hurricane season begins.”
The request was approved.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a request by Stephen Wisnieski of My Storehouse Mini Storage II, 1810 Stadium Road, for an eight-foot variance from the required 20-foot side property line setback creating a 12-foot setback;
• Approved an annual service contract with Stryker Medical and authorized the purchase of four Power Pro 2 Stretchers and Stair-Pro Stair Chairs;
• Approved an interlocal agreement with the Texas Municipal League Health Benefits Pool for medical, long-term disability, life, accidental death and dismemberment, for flexible spending account, health reimbursement account and voluntary vision plans for city employees for the Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023 fiscal year; and Sun Life Financial for voluntary dental coverage for city employees;
• Authorized the sale of surplus personal property;
• Approved a resolution for a Perpetual Blanket Overhead and Underground Easement between the City of Wharton and CenterPoint Energy to provide electrical service to the new water well and storage facilities;
• Approved a contract with the Wharton Economic Development Corporation for water improvements located at 1106 North Richmond Road for the Alamo Lumber Project; and
• Approved the purchase and installation of MyGov, LLC software for the city.