Bill seeks list of property that city owns Millions in taxes may be at stake

November 13, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Saying that Baltimore could be losing millions of dollars because municipal leaders have no idea how much real estate it owns, Councilwoman Helen L. Holton is pushing a bill that would force the city to compile a list of its properties.

For months, Holton and the city's real estate officer, Anthony J. Ambridge, have been trying to figure out exactly what properties are owned by the city.

They suspect that in some cases the city is not charging the proper rents or selling land at market values.

"How can the city operate when we don't know about our assets?" Holton asked. "This is a large city. Somewhere, somebody should know what we own."

Several City Council members at last night's meeting supported Holton's introduction of the bill that orders a comprehensive list be maintained by the comptroller's office, which oversees the real estate office.

The bill asks for the address, when the city acquired the property, the purchase price, who uses it and its value.

City agencies are responsible for the properties that they manage. Ambridge has asked agency heads to supply a list but some have not cooperated, he said.

"Nobody really knows how much real estate is out there," Ambridge said. "We have sent out a memorandum to the agency heads, asking them what they have."

The information "has been trickling in," he said.

Holton said the issue is helping the city operate more like a business. "I want to streamline the process and make our limited resources work to better serve our constituents," Holton said.

Until a definitive answer is available, Ambridge has had to guess that the city's real estate portfolio is worth about $3.2 billion.

In other action last night, 4th District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon is calling for more stringent measures to ensure the quality of meat and other foods sold in the inner city.

Dixon's resolution comes after a grocery store in Lower Park Heights sold outdated frozen meats even though health inspectors said the meat was edible. Community leaders picketed Canaan Discount Foods.

Also last night, the council gave preliminary confirmation to Otho M. "Duffy" Thompson as city solicitor. Thompson, at the request of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, has been acting city solicitor since the post was vacated by Neal M. Janey this fall.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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