Municipal Open Space Funding Option Bill Talking Points
AN ACT ESTABLISHING A PILOT PROGRAM AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO IMPOSE A BUYER'S CONVEYANCE FEE ON REAL PROPERTY TO FUND THE PURCHASE AND STEWARDSHIP OF OPEN SPACE.
Outline the Problem: Municipalities need a sustainable source of funding for open space
- Many cities and towns need a sustainable source of funding for local conservation and stewardship efforts that would not impact the municipal mill rate or require additional bonding.
- Open space and farmland are being lost, and funding for both acquisition and maintenance of these essential community resources is needed.
Introduce the Solution: A Local Funding Option -- Allowing Communities to Decide
- I support HB 5254 -- an effort to create a “local option” for towns and cities to acquire, protect, and steward open space, forest and farmland in their communities, as well as for brownfield remediation and other environmental projects.
- This bill would enable, but not require, select towns and cities to establish their own dedicated source of conservation funding by adopting a conveyance fee of up to 1% on the purchase of real estate (only charged on amounts over a minimum of $150,000).
- These funds could be used to fulfill match requirements for state or federal grant programs, acquire new parcels of open space and farmland, cover due diligence costs other expenses related to land transactions (appraisals, surveys, environmental assessments, etc). and/or maintain lands and water resources currently protected by our community (including invasive species control).
- HB 5254 also promotes public/private partnerships with local land trusts, as well as with other government entities.
Enabling Legislation - No Impact on the State Budget or Local Mill Rate
- HB 5254 would enable, not require, participating municipalities the opportunity to decide through their local decision-making process whether to adopt this program. It is not a mandate.
- Since the funds are collected and expended locally, there is no adverse fiscal impact on the state budget, nor would the program impact the municipal mill rate or require additional bonding.
How the Program would Help Your Municipality
- Locally raised revenue would allow towns and cities to fund projects and steward land and water resources despite an unstable state budget climate and reduced municipal aide.
- Current and future members of participating municipalities would enjoy an increased quality of life as protected land and water is maintained, new land is acquired, and other environmental projects are addressed.
- Based upon case studies from other states that have enabled communities to establish a buyer's conveyance fee program, the proposal would increase property values and attract new residents to participating communities.
- If your town is asking to be included in the bill: Describe why land conservation is important to preserving the character of your community and how having local funds will help advance your town’s conservation efforts.
- If your town is not asking to be included in the bill: I support the efforts of the municipalities seeking to participate in the pilot program enabled by HB 5254 and ask you to vote YES to provide them with the authority to give their town’s residents the opportunity to decide whether this program is the right option for their community.