WICHITA, Kansas – Summer rain has been both a gift and curse for the city of Wichita. Grass and weeds have sprouted in record numbers, towering over the city ordinance of 12 inches.
“We’ve had complaints of grass being four, five, six or seven feet high”, said Tom Stolz.
The Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department says they get between 50-60 complaints a day. So far this year, there are 1,600 overgrown properties and 75 percent of those complaints came within the last few weeks.
The department blames recent rain has made it difficult to keep up with cases.
Locating and alerting property owners also doesn’t help, they are given two weeks to mow their lawn. If they don’t, city contractors will come out and mow the non-compliant property and send a bill to the property owner for between $120-$150 per lot.
The department says that bill is not always paid.
“The city pays, and we put that abatement money charge back to the homeowner,” said Stolz. “Some times people don’t pay their property tax, and then at the end of the day, the people that get that are the taxpayers of this city.
The bill consists of a mowing fee that runs $70-$80 and an administration fee of $60-$70 depending on the size of the property.
The city has a direct budget for tall weeds and grass for $39,000 for seasonal staff, $35,000 for abatement mowing, and $30,000 for certified mailings (required by the courts for notification), plus some ancillary $ regarding It charges, fleet, etc.