Thomas DiNapoli (36239)

An audit released last week by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli concluded that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is holding on to unused property that could generate much needed revenue for the state.

According to the comptroller’s office, DiNapoli’s auditors reviewed a sample of 110 potentially surplus properties from records in five of DOT’s 11 regional offices. The auditors found that 18 properties were unused and could potentially be sold to generate revenue for the state. The properties are valued at an estimated $7.1 million.

The comptroller’s office said that DOT records indicated that staff assessments of the aforementioned properties hadn’t been done since about 2005.

“The state Department of Transportation owns many properties across New York that are just sitting idle,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Many of these could be sold and put to good use, generating revenue for the state and property taxes for localities. DOT needs to review its property holdings, identify those that could be sold and set into action a plan for their disposition.”

The office said that DOT’s real estate information systems did not allow regions to readily assess potential cost benefits of selling specific parcels without manually researching property files.

DiNapoli’s auditors reviewed the property system listings for 817 of 1,096 excess properties. Sixty percent of those listings didn’t show property values. Because of this, regional offices and DOT management couldn’t see which properties had the highest value so that an assessment and targeted prioritization could properly occur.

While the DOT can’t sell a property, it can issue permits or leases that could generate revenue. Reviewing 100 of the properties that the DOT didn’t issue permits for, auditors found that officials weren’t reviewing properties for permit fees on a regular basis.