Beaufort News

County to catalog, possibly sell dozens of parcels

A quick search through property databases shows the odd and sometimes irregular tracts of land owned by Beaufort County -- a few acres here, a right of way there, a stretch of abandoned railroad.

County administrator Gary Kubic questions whether the county needs all of them.

In coming weeks, county staff will evaluate county-owned land and determine whether some should be sold. Selling land could bring in cash and put the properties in private hands and back onto the tax rolls, Kubic said. The county also would no longer be responsible for mowing, trimming or other upkeep expenses.

The county owns about 225 vacant properties with no structures -- about 550 acres in total -- according to Dan Morgan, county director of information and technology.

Revenue and savings from the effort probably would be small,Kubic said, adding that every bit helps, as the county seeks to trim its 2011 budget from $104 million to $99.5 million.

The land evaluation process is just gearing up, so no particular parcels are under the microscope yet.

After the list is whittled into tracts that could possibly be sold, Morgan said his team will provide information to help County Council make a final decision.

"We'll provide a map for them so they can visually see the acreage and size of these properties," he said.

County chief financial officer David Starkey said the decision to sell the properties would ultimately be up to County Council.

The county has about 7,500 acres marked for preservation through its Rural and Critical Lands program, Morgan said.

Those tracts will be off-limits and won't be sold, Starkey said.

"That's going to be a large chunk of the county's land that we can't touch," he said. "This would only be property that the county owns for some other purpose."

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