Forsyth County may sell vacant property

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Some Forsyth County Commissioners say the county budget could get a more than $12 million boost if the county got rid of more than 450 acres of unused property and buildings county government currently owns, but is not using.

Commissioners Mark Baker, Gloria Whisenhunt and Bill Whiteheart have put together a four-year plan to study and potentially sell 7 properties over the next four years.

The properties include the former Environmental Affairs building on Spruce Street in Winston-Salem. More than 170 acres of land off Idols Road near Tanglewood Park is included, along with more than 190 acres of land off Rolling Hill Drive in Tobaccoville. Vacant land at the corner of University Parkway and Shattalon Drive is on the  list. The soon to be vacant Springwood Care Center on Shattalon Drive is, as well as the former county courthouse. The soon to be vacant Sheriff's Office on Third Street is also up for consideration.

"I don't think the county or government should be in business of holding property that's not serving the taxpayers. My philosophy is the land the buildings belong to the taxpayer and I think we ought to do a thorough, slow review of all the properties and look at which ones can sell and what do with that money," said Commissioner Mark Baker.

Some estimates show that selling the property could bring in more than $12 million.

Baker says each needs to be studied individually first.

"Does the county need it for future purpose, and if we don't, I think it would add a lot to our tax base," Baker said.

While some commissioners have said publicly selling it isn't smart, others argue it could help taxpayers facing a higher tax rate next year.

"If we can use that money to lower property taxes in future years, put into a sinking fund for future funds, or for capital investment I am for all of that.  I am not for just holding on to land and property," Baker said.