Presentation on theme: "Farmland Preservation is essential to our Polk County lifestyle."— Presentation transcript:
Farmland Preservation is essential to our Polk County lifestyle
Save Our Farmlands Farmland Preservation in Polk County is the number one priority of the Agricultural Economic Development and Farmland Preservation Advisory Board. For several years we have discussed a number of ways to financially support farmland preservation. The transfer tax is one method we have considered.
We endorse the idea of a transfer tax on real estate sales and we would like to tell you why we believe investing the revenue from the tax into farmland preservation would be a wise investment for Polk County.
1. Farmland Preservation Makes Sense Investing in farmland preservation pays the county back by helping to keep property taxes low. How does this work? Consider a 50 acre farm with one family that pays property taxes and receives county services such as schools. Then suppose that farm gets sold to a developer and is subdivided with forty houses and families who also need county services. American Farmland Trust studies have shown that this type of change results in an economic net loss for county government. This is because the cost of county services for those new families increases faster than the increased collection of property tax which they will pay.
Cows don ’ t go to School A survey by the American Farmland Trust shows that of every dollar of property tax received from working farms and forest lands, only 34 cents is needed from the government in the form of services. On the other hand the cost of services required for residential development averages $1.15 for every dollar of tax collected. Preserving farmland provides a gain in revenue for the tax base and is thus an economic benefit to the county. Farmland preservation makes economic sense and is an excellent use of tax revenue, especially for a property transfer tax.
2. Rural Character and Scenic Beauty must be Protected The people of our county have repeatedly ranked protecting the rural character and pastoral beauty of our county as their #1 concern. The physical beauty of our rolling landscapes, farms, and forests are an integral part of the quality of life in Polk County. The beauty and serenity of our county attracts people to come here to visit and to live. It is our greatest asset and resource. We must work with determination to balance our rural character with the development needed for new homes and commercial development.
Agriculture and forestry contribute to the economy providing jobs, farm products, and agri-tourism. The agricultural activity in Polk County is represented in many ways, not the least of which is our equine industry, cattle industry, the wine grape industry, the forest industry, and the horticultural industry. Through agricultural economic development, we can stimulate and grow the ag sector, which we believe has tremendous potential remaining to be tapped. 3. Our Farms Mean Business
Many residents of our county depend on ground water resources. Farms and forests are vital in protecting the water quality of sources like streams and rivers. Using our 50-acre farm as an example again, 40 homes on that 50 acres would greatly increase the demand on the county’s water resources. Keeping that 50 acres as a farm or forestland – that is, open, undeveloped space – is critical to replenishing our groundwater supply. Erosion from Development Clean Water 4. Farms Protect Water
At the same time, farms and forests also serve as good environmental stewards protecting and contributing to our wildlife habitats.
5. State Grants are Available Momentum for farmland preservation is growing across N.C. Polk County has been a leader in Farmland Preservation since the year 2000 due to the combined efforts and mutual interests of farmers, non-farmers, and the Board of Commissioners. Unfortunately, N.C. is also a leader in the United States in its annual loss of farmland.
The N.C. General Assembly has increased its funding to the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. In 2005, the Fund was provided with $45,000.00, some of which was awarded to Polk County for the development of its Farmland Preservation Plan. The N.C. General Assembly did not provide any funds for the Trust Fund in 2006. In 2007, the N.C. General Assembly has provided $8,000,000.00. These funds will be available to counties in the form of grants to help preserve farm and forestlands across North Carolina.
BUT… Grants Require Matching Funds. To be a recipient of the grant money awarded by the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund an applicant must be able to provide matching money. Those counties with an approved Countywide Farmland Protection Plan will be asked to match N.C. Trust Grants with 15% matching money.
Grant money from the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund can therefore be leveraged with only a 15% match to protect our farmland in Polk County. The many farmers who currently have more than 7,000 acres in Voluntary Agricultural District Farmland Preservation Programs will, within 10 years, have to decide whether to continue preserving their farms or to sell those farms to development. Those farms are appreciating assets for the farm owners. If we as the broad community of Polk County intend to further protect the farmlands now under the voluntary programs, we will have to pay to protect those farmlands. The funds put aside from the Real Estate Transfer Tax will accrue to leverage State Funds from the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and can be used for such things as purchasing agricultural easements, purchasing development rights, or paying for the transfer of development rights within the county, as well as for agricultural economic development initiatives.
Our Request As the commissioners know, our board originally came before you on October 1 to request funds from the proposed Transfer Tax. At that time a referendum was being considered for November 2007. However, at that meeting, it was determined that the Transfer Tax referendum would not be scheduled until November 2008. Based on that change, the Agricultural Economic Development & Farmland Preservation Advisory Board is coming before you tonight with a two- part request.
Two-Part Request 1. For the 2008 year, we request funding from the county in the amount of $250,000. That funding would allow us to apply for grants from the NC Farmland Preservation Trust Fund that are currently available – not losing the opportunity because of Transfer Tax referendum timing. Those grants would enable us to use state funding to preserve Polk County farmland and develop ways to stimulate and grow the county’s ag sector. 2. For the years 2009 going forward, we respectfully request that 100% of revenues from the Transfer Tax, if passed, be dedicated to farmland preservation, for all of the reasons we have discussed.
Farmland Preservation: What’s In It for Polk? Protects Rural Character and Scenic Beauty -fewer residential / commercial developments -less traffic, fewer road repairs or widening projects needed Keeps Property Taxes Low -fewer county services required -less land price pressure from development Protects and Quality & Quantity of Our Water Supplies -less erosion from land-clearing developments -less demand on scarce water resources -more open spaces to replenish ground water supplies Creates Jobs -Agriculture, Equine, Cattle, Wine, Forest & Horticulture Helps Grow the Ag Economy and Agri-Tourism -n ew markets, new products, new events Leverages Available State Funding - help stop NC’s rapid loss of farmland to development