2017 Tamworth Town Meeting - Conservation Fund Warrant Article
At Town Meeting on March 15, 2017, Article #16 asks voters to raise the cap on the annual contribution to the Conservation Fund:
ARTICLE #16 To see if the Town will vote to deposit 100% of the revenues collected for the land use change tax pursuant to RSA 79-A, up to $7,500 in any given calendar year, in the conservation fund, in accordance with RSA 36-A:5, III, as authorized by RSA 79-A:25 IV. This article shall take effect on April 1, 2017.
Update: This article was approved by vote at the March 15, 2017 Tamworth Town Meeting.
Explanation: This article increases the annual maximum contribution from the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) to the Tamworth Conservation Fund from $5000 currently to $7500. Like many other towns, Tamworth has a Conservation Fund that is expended by the Conservation Commission for conservation purposes. It allows the Commission to act in a timely manner on land protection opportunities, maintain and legally protect conservation easements and trails, and protect key natural resources. As in most towns, the ongoing source of funding is the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT), a 10% tax imposed on landowners who take land out of the lower-tax status of Current Use. In 2001, Tamworth voters opted to have all (100%) of the LUCT collected go into the Conservation Fund, up to an annual maximum of $5000. This article will raise the annual maximum to $7500. Note that any LUCT money above the maximum goes into the Town’s general fund.
Recent Conservation Fund Details: In Tamworth, in recent years, contributions from the LUCT to the Conservation Fund have been: 2016: $3,500• 2015: $0• 2014: $5,000 • 2013: $5,000 • 2012: $5,000 • 2011: $5,000
The balance in the Conservation Fund at the end of 2016 was: $70,415.91.
Rationale for a “yes” vote:
• Costs have increased & there has been inflation since 2001. The Tamworth Conservation Fund needs to keep pace to meet its intended purpose.
• The Commission takes seriously its responsibility as the sole entity responsible for expending the Conservation Fund. Decisions on expenditures are made in public meetings and with a public hearing if interest in real property is to be acquired.
• The cost of suddenly needing to defend a conservation easement or protect a resource requires significant available funds.
• In recent years, the Conservation Fund has played a key role in helping leverage private donations that have protected scenic, wild, agricultural, and recreation lands around town through Conservation Easements that leave land in private ownership.
• Tamworth’s Master Plan prioritizes strategic land protection, and voters have long supported local conservation efforts that help retain Tamworth’s special character. The Conservation Fund is a vital tool in making that happen.
Current Use was created in 1972 as an incentive for landowners to keep their land undeveloped, helping to save private open land that supports NH’s important wildlife & recreation activities that are a huge part of the state’s economy. The Land Use Change Tax is assessed when the land is developed. Using the tax income generated from losing open land is a logical reinvestment in conservation resources in Tamworth.
Applicable NH Laws (RSAs):
Chapter 36-A, Conservation Commissions, Section 36-A:5, Appropriations Authorized. I. A town or city, having established a conservation commission as authorized by RSA 36-A:2, may appropriate money as deemed necessary for the purpose of this chapter. The whole or any part of money so appropriated in any year and any gifts of money received pursuant to RSA 36-A:4 may be placed in a conservation fund and allowed to accumulate from year to year. Money may be expended from said fund by the conservation commission for the purposes of this chapter without further approval of the town meeting. II. The town treasurer, pursuant to RSA 41:29, shall have custody of all moneys in the conservation fund and shall pay out the same only upon order of the conservation commission. The disbursement of conservation funds shall be authorized by a majority of the conservation commission. Prior to the use of such funds for the purchase of any interest in real property or for a contribution to a qualified organization for the purchase of property interests under RSA 36-A:4-a, I(b), the conservation commission shall hold a public hearing with notice in accordance with RSA 675:7. III. In the municipality that has adopted the provisions of RSA 79-A:25, II, the specified percentage of the revenues received pursuant to RSA 79-A shall be placed in the conservation fund.
Chapter 79-A, Current Use Taxation, 79-A:25 Disposition of Revenues I. Except as provided in paragraph II, all money received by the tax collector pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be for the use of the town or city. II. The legislative body of the town or city may, by majority vote, elect to place the whole or a specified percentage, amount, or any combination of percentage and amount, of the revenues of all future payments collected pursuant to this chapter in a conservation fund in accordance with RSA 36-A:5, III. The whole or specified percentage or amount, or percentage and amount, of such revenues shall be deposited in the conservation fund at the time of collection. III. If adopted by a town or city, the provisions of RSA 79-A:25, II shall take effect in the tax year beginning on April 1 following the vote and shall remain in effect until altered or rescinded pursuant to RSA 79-A:25, IV. IV. In any town or city that has adopted the provisions of paragraph II, the legislative body may vote to rescind its action or change the percentage or amount, or percentage and amount, of revenues to be placed in the conservation fund. Any such action to rescind or change the percentage or amount, or percentage and amount, shall not take effect before the tax year beginning April 1 following the vote.
Questions? Contact the Commission at info@TamworthConservationCommission.org or call Ned Beecher, Vice Chair, at 387-7869.
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