St. Lucie property appraiser finds $14 million property state owns…sort ofby Dara Kam | December 7th, 2009
St. Lucie County Property Appraiser Jeff Furst wants to help out frustrated Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander who’s been trying to get a handle on how many buildings the state owns and where they are.
Furst told Alexander’s Ways and Means Committee this morning that he and each of the state’s 67 property appraisers already have a list of state-owned properties that they submit to the state Department of Revenue every year.
There are more than 800 state-owned properties worth at least $400 million in St. Lucie County, Furst told the committee. And that doesn’t include a parcel worth $14 million the state has owned for more than 20 years but never bothered to take title of.
The city of Ft. Pierce donated the land for the building to the state, Furst said. He was surprised to learn that it wasn’t included on the list of state-owned properties and discovered that state officials never took ownership of the property although the warranty deed and other documents were sent to them in 1988.
Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican whose district includes part of St. Lucie County, ordered Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South in January to come up with an inventory of the state’s real property. She hasn’t been able to do that yet. Instead, she wants to hire a private company to help find the missing buildings and create a database of them.
Property appraisers could create the database within 90 days, Furst said.
“Nobody will need anything other than some good cooperation and a state plan,” Furst said.
Management Services officials grabbed Furst after he testified and immediately set up a meeting with him to see what he could do to help them with their task, which Alexander put into state law.
The state is fully aware that it “owns” the building, which still shows up on the tax rolls as belonging to the city of Ft. Pierce. The building is fully occupied by state workers, DMS Chief of Staff Ken Granger said, and the state officials know they “own” it.