published: Sunday, January 20, 2013
County to discuss donated lands
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - A policy on what to do with property acquired by the county will be up for discussion Tuesday when Highlands County commissioners gather for their regular session.
County Administrator June Fisher reportedly will begin with a primer for commissioners on the ways that the county comes into possession of real property, then will provide a general overview of what the county owns and how it is tracked through the databases. Fisher also will discuss a proposed land management and property review process, winding up with the pros and cons of various disposal options for surplus property.
The item stems from a discussion at the Jan. 8 county commission meeting where Fisher informed commissioners a plot of land had been offered to the county. At that time, she suggested that adjacent property owners first be contacted to see if they might be interested in the real estate and pledged to construct a policy for the commission to consider.
A master list of county-owned assets currently is maintained under the General Services Department. That now will be updated with the inclusion of county-held tax certificates. The county's holdings also would be classified depending on use. Categories would range from "Permanent" indicating ongoing use such as offices, parks and the like to "sell" - for assets that could be put on the market.
There are a number of other suggestions for the list including "Land Bank" for county property officially designated for future affordable housing and "Keep", which would be for land in which a future need had been identified.
Under the new staff-proposed plan, property offered to the county first would go to the Engineering Department for review. They would be responsible for getting pertinent information such as data from the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser's office as well as the Development Services Department. If a county department expresses a need for a given piece of land, they would be required to provide justification to a Land Aquisition Manager - who will make a recommendation to the county administrator.
The administrator then will make a recommendation to commissioners.
If the land is determined to be of no use to the county, adjacent property owners then would be notified to determine if there was interest there. Land sold back to the private sector would involve an auction, broker or disposition of the land through staff.
Commissioners are expected to discuss the item with staff to take their comments and put together a formal recommendation.
Not income producing (by: Blindman - 1/23/2013)
Correct me if I'm wrong but some of the land Mr Compton is referring to is not income producing. Should such be taxed when the state could preserve it?
Govt owned land (by: Hoz Compton - 1/22/2013)
I believe it best to get County owned real estate back in the private sector. Its a double whammy; maintenance costs/Liability and Lost Property Tax Revenue!
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