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March 5, 2012

 

DiNapoli: DOT Holding Onto Surplus Property

Unused Properties Hold Potential to Generate Revenue


The Department of Transportation (DOT) is holding onto unused property that could generate the state much needed revenue, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"The state Department of Transportation owns many properties across New York that are just sitting idle," DiNapoli said. "Many of these could be sold and put to good use generating revenues for the state and property taxes for localities. DOT needs to review its property holdings, identify those that could be sold, and set into action a plan for their disposition."

DiNapoli's auditors reviewed a sample of 110 potentially surplus properties from records in five of DOT's 11 regional offices. Auditors found that 18 properties, with an estimated value of $7.1 million, were unused and could potentially be sold to generate revenue for the state. DOT records show staff assessments of these properties have not been done since at least 2005.

DOT's real estate information systems do not allow regions to readily assess the potential cost benefit of selling specific parcels without manually researching property files. Auditors reviewed the property system listings for 817 of 1,096 excess properties. Of these, 494 (60 percent) did not show property values. As a result, regional offices and DOT management could not see which of the properties had the highest value to assist in prioritizing properties to target for review.

In cases where DOT cannot sell a property, it can issue permits or leases that generate revenue. A review of the 100 properties for which DOT issued permits found that officials were not reviewing the permit fees on a regular basis, thereby missing opportunities to receive added revenue from the properties.

DiNapoli's auditors recommended DOT:

  • Evaluate and document whether the 18 properties should be marketed for sale;
  • Modify its new property database system to include value, usage, and restrictions on properties, and periodically review the information to prioritize those properties that potentially could be sold;
  • Require the regional offices to regularly review property holdings to determine whether they should be sold;
  • Develop methods to inform potential buyers about excess property available for sales inquiries; and
  • Review permits and leases and update them when appropriate.

DOT generally agreed with the audit's findings and has begun implementing its recommendations.

To see a copy of the complete audit go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093012/10s48.pdf


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