Overall, the county owns $1.16 billion worth of land. More than 800 parcels are in use, but county staff identified more than 200 they could do without.
A review of county-owned land identified 200 parcels that could be sold as surplus immediately, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis told commissioners at a May 25 budget workshop.
Of the county’s land, which includes more than 1,000 properties, 818 must be retained. Those properties include ones that are currently in use, like fire stations, county buildings, parks or stormwater facilities.
20 county-owned properties are ready for surplus and 58 have conditions that must be met before than can be classified as surplus.
Combined, the properties equal a fair market value of $1.16 billion.
“The departments had to go through a process to justify … why they need to be retained,” County Manager Jonathan Lewis said.
The presentation came as a result of past years’ budget discussions, in which commissioners and their constituents weren’t comfortable raising taxes if they weren’t confident the county government had done all it could to cut costs.
“The argument was ‘how dare you even talk about a tax increase when you haven’t reviewed the assets that you might have available,’” Commissioner Charles Hines said. “That was absolutely correct. Now we have that list.”
The next step for the county is to approve a formal resolution to put the 200 identified properties on the surplus land list. That’s expected to happen at a July commission meeting.
By August, commissioners will get an update on the properties that had additional conditions.
The county will likely contract with a vendor to sell the surplus lands, which Lewis emphasized was too big of a job for county staff to accomplish in a short time frame.
“We want to get it done fast,” Lewis said. “Moving these things on and getting them done is important so we can focus on other things.”
In November, the County Commission surplussed several properties in order to replenish a reserve fund that was used to balance the budget. Sales have been approved for three of those properties on Bee Ridge Road for more than $500,000.
The county is still working to sell the property at the corner of Main Street and Washington Boulevard, which is currently a 86-space parking lot, for about $3 million.
The commission will consider designating some proceeds from surplus land sales to affordable housing.