Cutler Legislation Would Help Cash-Strapped Local Governments
5/23/2012
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously approved legislation authored by Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) that would make it easier for local governments to sell or convey publicly held lands and buildings.

“The aim of this legislation is to clarify the intent of the General Assembly regarding how municipalities are supposed to handle public assets acquired through purchase or condemnation,” said Cutler. “The bill would ensure that municipalities, in these difficult economic times, have the ability to raise capital by selling under-used properties or those which are difficult to maintain.”

According to the Donated and Dedicated Property Act of 1959, donated or dedicated properties bequeathed to a municipality are to be held in trust for the benefit of the public. The act permits local governments to petition the Orphan’s Court for relief if the original purpose of the property is no longer practical, possible or has ceased to serve the public interest. It also stipulates that land and buildings acquired through purchase or condemnation are not subject to the law and do not require Orphan’s Court approval.

In the 2010 court case In Re: Erie Golf Course, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expressed uncertainty about the legislative intent of the Donated and Dedicated Property Act, and it negated the exemption for public assets acquired through purchase if the public assets were dedicated to public use by a subsequent municipal action even if there was a lack of records showing a formal acceptance.

House Bill 2224 would amend the Donated and Dedicated Property Act to clarify that public assets acquired through purchase by a political subdivision do not need Orphans’ Court approval prior to reconveyance if the lands or buildings are unencumbered by recorded restrictions or covenants requiring them to be used for public use. The bill also clarifies that, if a political subdivision reconveys lands or buildings acquired through condemnation, the assets shall be sold or disposed of as permitted by the Eminent Domain Code.

House Bill 2224 will now go before the Senate for approval.

More information about Cutler and his legislative priorities is available at RepCutler.com or Facebook.com/RepBryanCutler.

State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
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