The Land & Water Conservation Commission wrapped up its work with the adoption of a report that asks the legislature to provide for $1 billion in additional funding for conservation needs.
The commission's recommendations include additional incentives and funding for conservation, including farmland and working waterfront preservation. Some of the ideas, which the commission will forward to the General Assembly, have made the real estate and homebuilders lobby uncomfortable. Ag-related issues have also drawn the interest of the state's farm bureau.
The preferred method for raising money is through state bonds, which means anyone interested in the idea of Land for Tomorrow should pay particular attention to an upcoming report from State Treasurer Richard Moore about the state debt and what we might be able to afford. As reported earlier, a lot of folks are cueing up for bonds.
Land for Tomorrow's page on the commission's work.
Here's the list from the draft report:
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly provide an additional $1 billion in funding over five years for land and water conservation, cultural and historic preservation, and related economic development needs. The Commission does not have a specific
recommendation as to how the additional funds should be allocated. The Commission recommends that the additional funding be allocated among the existing trust funds and used for a variety of different programs.
The Commission recommends that the existing entities involved in land and water conservation and cultural and historic preservation continue to improve the manner in which they coordinate with one another in order to function in a more collaborative, systematic,
and integrated manner so as to maximize the use of State investments. As part of this coordination, the Commission encourages the development of statewide priorities for land and water conservation and cultural and historic preservation and enhanced data collection efforts regarding conservation and preservation needs and efforts.
The Commission recommends a balanced financing approach based on debt financing and dedicated sources of tax or fee revenue. The Commission does not have a recommendation as to the specific mix of additional funding sources for conservation efforts. However, it has
identified a number of possible revenue sources for consideration: broad-based tax options; development-based tax options; and tourism-based tax options.
The Commission recommends that both chambers of the General Assembly establish a committee at the start of the 2007 Regular Session to address the State's infrastructure needs including conservation, water and sewer, public schools, transportation, and affordable
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly study further the idea of land mitigation requirements and any authorizing legislation needed to authorize voluntary or
mandatory mitigation banking.
The Commission finds that encouraging local government participation in land and water conservation and cultural and historic preservation is a necessary part of any reform to the
State's current conservation and preservation efforts. The Commission recommends that the General Assembly consider proposals that would provide additional funding options at the
local level for conservation purposes. In addition, the Commission recommends that the General Assembly evaluate the means by which it encourages local participation with projects funded by the four major conservation trust funds with the goal of encouraging
greater local participation.
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly consider an enhancement of the tax credits for real property donations for conservation purposes.
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly consider establishing a tax incentive to encourage people to manage lands for conservation. The incentive could take the form of a property tax deferral or an income tax credit.
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly further study the potential effect of time-limited conservation agreements on the State's conservation and preservation efforts.
The Commission recommends that the General Assembly study alternative allocations of State funds to ensure that the State fully leverages available federal funds.