County rethinks price of foreclosed lots

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Beaufort County officials are revisiting the selling prices for county-owned properties.

The county currently owns 102 properties that range across the county, from land in the City of Washington to rural tracts in Richland Township, near Aurora, and outside of Belhaven and Pantego. The sources of the properties are those that have been foreclosed upon, or donated to the county by the owner. They range in appraised values of $359,781 for 5.13 acres located at Chapin and Third streets in the Town of Aurora, to $64 for .24 acres near the Pamlico River, a parcel surrounded by land owned by phosphate mining company PotashCorp-Aurora; another .06-acre waterfront parcel narrowly separated from the .24-acre property is appraised at $1,333.

The issue arose during the commissioners’ October regular meeting, when the board fielded an offer for two county-owned lots on Fifth Street in Washington. The stated intention was to build a commercial structure on the combined properties, which would be taxable by the county. While the properties are appraised at $5,500, the offer for the two lots was $1,000.

“Our list of properties are growing,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson during the October meeting. “Let’s take the loss and get some of these properties back on the tax rolls.”

Richardson followed up in the November meeting by suggesting that the county put all foreclosed-upon properties on the market and sell them for a reasonable offer.

“A lot of times, we could probably offer to sell it for the money we have in it,” Commissioner Robert Belcher said in the November meeting. “What we’ve been doing is trying to sell it for the tax value, and that doesn’t happen.”

Discussion centered around using the taxes due on the property and accrued attorney’s fees to set a baseline for future selling prices.

County staff has since put together a list of PDF documents that show acreage, GPS coordinates and appraised value of each county-owned property, with an aerial photo that shows any nearby properties also owned by the county.