State Politics

Legislation on state property use in the works

A subcommittee examining the state’s use of real property is finalizing draft legislation that would outline the sales of several sites and institute a new framework to better manage inventory in the future.

Twelve state-owned historic houses on Person and Blount streets in Raleigh are on the sales list – though some are already under negotiation with buyers – as are four sites under the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Public Safety.

For offices, storage warehouses and other property that remain in the state’s portfolio, the state would establish closer management, up-to-date databasing and ongoing disposal of surplus, under proposals at the subcommittee.

The draft language would also require agencies to ensure that state property isn’t already available before leases are inked or renewed. Many of the recommendations came from the legislature’s Program Evaluation Division, which in a study found that the state’s property oversight is scattered and that many sites aren’t efficiently used. The Department of Administration, for one, has four divisions or offices that oversee property, according to PED.

Sen. Rick Gunn, an Alamance County Republican, chairman of the Subcommittee on Real Property, this week said the reforms would be an “extremely important” companion to the statewide bond proposal that would result in new buildings, additions or renovations that will need to be maintained.

Surplus, unused or underutilized sites listed for sale in the draft bills include the Ashley House at 219 E. North St. and the Lamar House at 401 N. Person St. in Raleigh, both of which are already on the market and have received offers in negotiation.

Officials said the state awaits an appraisal on the Heck-Andrews House at 309 N. Blount St., also on the to-go list.

The sale proceeds, according to the draft language, would allocate 25 percent to the state agency that held the property and the rest to the state’s treasury to support the general fund.

But DPS took issue with the inclusion of one of its properties, an oil dock, fabrication and storage facility in Garner.

According to Ryan Combs, DPS’ governmental affairs director, it supports one of the agency’s “most treasured resources,” Correction Enterprises, which serves to rehabilitate inmates with job skills and to reduce recidivism.

He said the program is 100 percent receipt supported, and that receipts bought the property in 1984 and maintain it fully to this day. Correction Enterprises uses it as its central maintenance storage facility, Combs said.

PED found it underutilized and recommended moving its operations to another site. Subcommittee members indicated some special considerations for DPS – possibly giving the agency full proceeds from a sale, if ordered – that may be included in final draft legislation.

Benjamin Brown: 919-832-8358, @benbrownmedia