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City to put liens on properties for outstanding fees

By Staff | Dec 2, 2008

The owners of 997 properties in Cape Coral could receive an unwelcome New Year’s gift from the city — a lien on their property.
The city has incurred the costs of mowing the yards of the unkempt properties, which are at least 30 days behind on their bills for the city’s “public nuisance abatement costs.”
City council members voted unanimously Monday to impose liens on the properties as a means of collecting the outstanding fees, which total $140,041, or an average of $140 per property. The resolution allows owners 30 days, starting Monday, to pay the fine before the lien is imposed.
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini, who sponsored the resolution, said the liens will insure the debts are paid, at least when the property is sold.
“Hopefully we’ll recoup some of this money down the road,” Bertolini said.
Mayor Jim Burch pointed out that the property owners should be aware of the imposition of the liens.
“All of these properties have already been notified,” he said.
Property owners wishing to contest the lien “must commence an action in Circuit Court within 30 days,” according to the resolution.
City Financial Services Director Mark Mason said as more bills become delinquent, similar resolutions will be brought forward.
“We decided to bring these resolutions before the city council on a monthly basis,” Mason said.
City Manager Terry Stewart said there are more bills in arrears queued up in the system that are not covered by this resolution.
“The last time I spoke to Code (Enforcement) I think it was $160,000 that was out there. You’re fairly close to the majority,” Stewart said.
The city budgeted $4.1 million for lot mowing expenditures this fiscal year.