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Missouri may sell excess property to help budget

Sunday, May 1, 2011 | 3:30 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Some prime prison-front property in Missouri may soon be hitting the marketplace — available, for the right price, to anyone looking for a little extra land for crops, livestock or even a home.

Legislation poised for passage in the final two weeks of the annual legislative session would grant authority to Gov. Jay Nixon's administration to sell more than 1,000 acres of state property — much of it near prisons.

Although the final price would be determined by the willingness of people to pay for the land, the state Office of Administration estimates the deals could generate $3.6 million, which could go toward the state's general revenues to help balance the budget.

Sen. Jim Lembke, chairman of the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee which has been looking for cost savings in government, said the legislation is a product of a request he made to the state's facilities management division.

"I had charged the department to identify either excess property we have or property that is maybe not at its best and highest use, that may be better if it was in the private sector and it was on the tax rolls," said Lembke, R-St. Louis.

The list of properties identified for potential sale includes agricultural land around prisons in Audrain, Buchanan, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Livingston, Moniteau, Nodaway, Randolph, St. Francois, St. Louis, Texas and Washington counties. It also includes what's described as a warden's house near the Boonville Correctional Center and residential property near the Farmington Correctional Center and the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph.

All told, the potential for-sale list includes about 50 property tracts, the largest of which is 125 acres of agricultural land at the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City. The list also includes several sites described as potential industrial areas — about 19 acres near the Boonville prison, 15 acres near the St. Joseph facility and 10 acres near the Potosi Correctional Center.

Among the nonprison properties potentially for sale is a National Guard armory in Centertown in central Missouri.

The amount of property available around state prisons varies. But even with the potential sales, the Department of Corrections said it will try to maintain a buffer of about 200 feet beyond the prisons' perimeter roads.

The state Senate endorsed the land-sale legislation last week, then sent it to a committee that reviews cost estimates of bills. A final Senate and House vote is needed to send the legislation to the governor.

 


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