08/21/13 — County keeps surplus property

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County keeps surplus property

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 21, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners were hesitant Tuesday to surrender the county's half share of more than $220,000 in tax-foreclosed properties to city control.

The tax value of the 21 pieces of property, jointly owned by the county and city, range from $1,830 to $81,970. Some of the properties have houses and/or other buildings. Others are vacant lots. No taxes are currently being paid on the properties.

The most valuable property, according to county taxes records, is 211 Shaw Court, which is valued at $81,970, including a house valued at $76,740.

"We, as a county, have already surplused these properties," County Manager Lee Smith told commissioners. "The staff has recommended, and the city had requested, the transfer of the properties to the city of Goldsboro for their potential selling of those properties, reimbursing us for any costs, including taxes."

The city would reimburse the county for any legal fees associated with the foreclosures, too, he said.

The county also has a letter and minutes from a City Council meeting stating that the city would reimburse the county, he said.

Smith said he has spoken with city officials who had told him they have potential buyers for some of the properties.

"That is why they wanted to go ahead and get this done," Smith said.

It would be the city's responsibility to handle all aspects of selling the property, not the county's, he said.

The county has made similar property transfers to Fremont, Pikeville and Mount Olive, Smith said.

However, Commissioner Joe Daughtery said he was trying to understand why it would be to the county's advantage to transfer the property to the city. He raised a similar concern when the county recently transferred some property to Mount Olive.

A list of the properties was presented during the board's agenda briefing held prior to the regular board session. The initial list did not include tax values.

Daughtery asked that a new list be prepared that included the values.

Not having that during earlier discussions had been a "hang-ups," he said.

Daughtery also questioned what the city might do with the properties.

County Attorney Borden Parker said that sometimes cities will use the properties for Habitat for Humanity and "those kind of things."

Also, the city has a larger staff than the county does to "try and get rid" of the properties, he said. That saves the county the time and expense associated with trying to sell them, Parker said.

"Most of these properties are not something that you really want to own," he said.

The city would pay the county all of its cost involved with the properties. However, any amount above that gained by selling the property would go to the city, Parker said.

Smith said that the county owns some properties that have homes on them. Those are being placed on govdeals.com, a kind of governmental eBay, he said.

Smith said that based on his own experiences, it is more difficult to sell property when it is owned by a county and city.

"When you have a sale you have got to get the commissioners to agree and city council to agree on everything," he said. "There needs to be an owner. If there are two, you will see that it just sits here and nothing happens.

"Most of these we have looked at. Borden made a statement, and I am probably going to be a little stronger, we don't want these. These are the lesser-desired properties."

In some cases the properties are small parcels that have adjoining properties owners who might want them, Smith said.

Those are the ones that are most difficult to do anything with, he said.

Daughtery said he understood, but wanted to see the tax values.

"With the new figures here of the tax values on these properties, I just am not quite comfortable in transferring," Daughtery said. "I did a quick tally on it and it is over $220,000 worth of property tax value."

Daughtery asked that the transfer be tabled pending further study and information. The board agreed.