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Recent audit eyes sale of surplus state property

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas agency tasked with overseeing surplus property needs to do a better job monitoring what the state owns and getting rid of what's not needed, according to a recent audit.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit found the state's central asset inventory of real property is inaccurate and incomplete, that the process to sell extra property includes disincentives and the State Surplus Property Program has operated at a net loss of about $50,000 for each of the past two years.

"The Department of Administration has not proactively identified surplus real property as required by law and lacks the authority to independently designate what properties are surplus," the report stated.

The report recommends that the Department of Administration establish clear criteria for identifying surplus property, sell it off and periodically review state land to identify potential surplus property, the Lawrence Journal-World ( ) reported. The department's Office of Research and Development vowed to put many of the recommendations into action and report back to legislators by April 1.

Thirteen properties were selected for an in-depth review, and auditors determined that eight of those were surplus because they either were unused or not critical to the missions of the agencies that owned them. Those eight properties could be sold for an estimated $1.5 million to $2.2 million, the audit said.

Some properties need title searches or appraisals, and some land is being leased for other purposes -- obstacles that could keep Kansas from selling it off.

For example, the Atchison Juvenile Correctional Complex, which was vacated in March 2010, was only recently appraised. Since it has been empty, vandals and copper thieves have gotten into the complex's 23 buildings, likely reducing the site's value.

The audit also looked at four tracts of land, totaling 449 acres, near the Kansas Soldier's Home. These leased agricultural lands are inessential to the function of the home, the audit said.

But Gregg Burden, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs, argued the land is needed as a buffer against encroaching industrial development.