- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina lawmakers plan to inventory the state’s vacant and underused properties after receiving a report Tuesday indicating that the assets could be sold for millions of dollars.

The report, released by the Program Evaluation Division of the General Assembly - a non-partisan legislative agency that reports on the efficiency of state operations - said the Department of Administration’s State Property Office kept poor inventory of its more than 9,000 properties and had no system to determine which ones are not being used.

A sample of 49 properties in the report determined 24 were no longer needed by the state. The report said 17 properties owned by the state could be sold for $14.3 million, while not renewing seven leased properties could save $2.6 million.

Department of Administration Secretary Bill Daughtridge called the report inaccurate, pointing to existing plans to sell or redevelop several of the properties in question. He argued more funding is needed to create a more streamlined process of evaluating properties by the state agencies that control them.

The report’s authors agreed that the sample could not be used to make generalizations on the state’s entire list of properties. Properties used in the sample were not chosen at random, but were selected using information indicating they may not be needed, said Sean Hamel, the report’s lead evaluator.

The Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, which includes members of both the House and Senate, approved the report at Tuesday’s meeting, and set up a subcommittee to submit its own findings in July.

Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, will chair the subcommittee, which also includes Sen. Ben Clark, D-Hoke; Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes; Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover; and Rep. Rena Turner, R-Iredell.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Gunn largely agreed with the report’s findings, adding that he thought poor record keeping of state properties dated back several administrations.

“I can’t decide quite honestly … whether we’ve got a disconnect as to what the statutory requirements are, or a blatant disregard for what they say,” Gunn said.

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