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Office of the New York State Comptroller

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Transportation
Review of Real Property Holdings for Disposal


Issued: March 5, 2012
Link to full audit report 2010-S-48

Purpose
To determine whether the Department of Transportation (Department) periodically reviews its real property so it can establish the need to either hold or dispose of properties. We also determined whether the Department disposes of real property on terms beneficial to the State. The audit covers the period April 2005 - August 2010.

Background
The Department is responsible for more than 113,000 miles of highways and tens of thousands of acres of property throughout the State. This includes property currently not being used and land purchased for specific projects which were later cancelled or changed. The Department’s Real Estate Right of Way Manual (Manual) indicated that continued ownership of unused property adds to the Department’s maintenance and management responsibilities and consumes valuable resources. The Manual also indicates retaining unneeded property deprives communities of real property tax revenue and prevents possible property development opportunities to enhance local economies.

Key Findings

  • The Department does not comprehensively review its real property holdings to identify properties for sale or disposal.
  • Our review of 110 sampled potentially surplus properties found that 18 with an estimated value of $7.1 million may no longer be necessary for transportation purposes and could possibly be disposed of or sold to generate revenue for the State. The most recent assessments for the need of these properties were done between 1984 and 2005.
  • The Department disposes of the properties we tested in a matter beneficial to the State. However, when the Department leases out its property, it may not maximize revenue because it does not review property permit fees on a regular basis.

Key Recommendations

  • Regularly review real property holdings to determine whether they should be surplus and disposed of.
  • Monitor compliance with Department procedures to review permits and update them as appropriate.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Real Estate Portfolio Report 2009-S-10


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone:(212) 417-5200; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236