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March 20, 2014

CSHLRA gives county update on legislative initiatives

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Two key bills moved forward at the capitol last week which will help privatize the Central State Hospital campus once Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign them into law within the next couple of weeks.

“We ought to be privatizing property as much as possible, and we need to be creating jobs; that’s our purpose and our intent,” said Mike Couch, executive director of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) to Baldwin County Commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting.

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 495 last week, which allows only state delegates that have a particular property in their district to veto a state property transaction. The current process to transfer state-owned property to a private entity carries an average closing time of 520 days since it must go through the General Assembly.

“[HB 495] gives me direct linkage to work with the State Properties Commission on a case-by-case basis. We need access to properties ... we can’t wait for the General Assembly,” Couch said. “This allows us to be more timely in mortgage transactions. We will cut 400 days off the transaction time, and that makes it more market ready.”

Senate Resolution 788 or the State Property Omnibus legislation was also passed by the House last week. This covers all the anticipated property transfers between the 2014 and 2015 Georgia legislative sessions. It will be used to declare certain properties surplus to the current missions of the Georgia Department of Corrections and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. SR 788 will go back to the Senate Thursday for an agreement to the amendment.

“I don’t anticipate any problems at the Senate. We’re getting exactly what we asked for,” Couch said. “These were the two pieces we need to become an effective authority.”

Both bills are key to unlock stagnant CSH campus land totaling just over 2,100 acres.

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