There are two recent news stories coming out of Connecticut on land management.
First, Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell announced today that the Constitution State (formerly the Nutmeg State) will begin a comprehensive, digital inventory of public lands. The announcement was focused on mapping to preserve state forests that line Connecticut highways. ConnecticutPlus.com reports:
…the Governor has assembled a team of representatives from the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Siting Council, Office of Policy of Management and the Council on Environmental Quality. They will be responsible for: Converting existing maps to digitalized format; [and] adding scenic land locations to the state’s Geographic Information System (GIS) data for planning and permitting purposes.
In 2001, the Connecticut State Comptroller and Office of Policy and Management (OPM) joined forces to create a real property inventory called the Joint Effort for State Inventory Reporting system (JESTIR). A special division of the OPM, the Bureau of Assets Management, is responsible for maintaining the inventory. JESTIR collects publicly owned property inventory information from all state agencies and on a quarterly basis and analyzes them. Until now, there was not a focus on registering which public lands logged in this system should be given extra special preservation privileges.
Second, Connecticut is now looking to asset divestitures to meet serious budget needs. The Hartford Business Journal reports:
The $37.5 billion budget that went into effect last week includes a plan to raise $60 million over the next two fiscal years by selling state assets. State agencies are currently developing lists of potential items that could go on the sales block. While nothing has specifically been targeted, options including state-owned office buildings and vacant land are on the table, lawmakers said.
The state treasurer and the Office of Policy and Management are charged with submitting finalized lists of possible assets to sell by Feb. 3.
The plan includes selling up to $15 million in assets for fiscal 2010 and up to $45 million in assets for fiscal 2011. “We were looking at every possible way to close the budget deficit over the last several months and there was recognition on the part of legislature that there were various state assets that should be evaluated,” said state Rep. Cameron Staples, (D-New Haven), co-chair of the state’s finance committee. “The question is, what do we need to own, versus what we can afford to own, and what we can actually sell. That evaluation is the key right now.”
Staples said some state-owned properties require a fair amount of upkeep and that the recent wave of early retirements by state workers might leave some office space vacancies, which could make it easier for the state to sell those buildings.