05-18 cloer

Palestine interim City Manager Leslie Cloer.

The city of Palestine owns at least 165 commercial and residential properties, located throughout the community, that it doesn't know what to do with, or how to get rid of.

Making matters worse, neither Interim City Manager Leslie Cloer nor her staff know exactly how many of these properties the city owns, or how much these properties are costing the city to maintain.

“Can we support it? No, we can't,” Cloer told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “So we are going to have to look at ways to offload (sell) them.

“It’s a big mess,” she said.

Some of these properties failed to sell at auctions, or were deeded to the city after they were inherited by people who either didn't want, or couldn't afford, to pay the taxes.

One possible solution, Cloer said, which also would benefit potential home buyers, is the Build Palestine program, created in 2018. The program includes free available land, waived building permit fees, and waived or reduced utility connection fees for single-family homes for low-to-moderate income families.

“This city is not here to be property managers,” Cloer said, adding the city can't properly maintain the parks and property it knows it owns.

“We are going to have to look at how we can start off-loading these properties.”

All of the properties are covered by the city's Texas Municipal League insurance.

Build Palestine requires participants to have documented financing and a commitment to start construction in 6 months and finish in 18 months.

City officials won’t accept applications for Build Palestine until they know a property has no title or deeds issues.

The city and the county are working together to get the city’s files up-to-date on each property, and establish whether the properties have liens or creditor claims attached to them.

For more information on these properties or the Build Palestine Program, contact Mark Miears at 903-731-8402.