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Description

This project provides funds for the purchase of agricultural and conservation easements under the County Agricultural Land Preservation legislation, effective November 25, 2008, for local participation in Maryland's Agricultural and Conservation programs and through Executive Regulation 3-09 AM, adopted July 27, 2010. The County Agricultural Easement Program (AEP) enables the County to purchase preservation easements on farmland in the agricultural zones and in other zones approved by the County Council to preserve farmland not entirely protected by Transferable Development Rights (TDR) easements or State agricultural land preservation easements. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) enables the State to purchase preservation easements on farmland jointly by the County and State. The Rural Legacy Program (RLP) enables the State to purchase conservation easements to preserve large contiguous tracts of agricultural land. The sale of development rights easements are proffered voluntarily by the farmland owner. The project receives funding from the Agricultural Transfer Tax, which is levied when farmland is sold and removed from agricultural status. Montgomery County is a State-Certified County under the provisions of State legislation, which enables the County to retain 75 percent of the taxes for local use. The County uses a portion of its share of the tax to provide matching funds for State easements. In FY10, the Building Lot Termination (BLT) program was initiated. This program represents an enhanced farmland preservation program tool to further protect land where development rights have been retained in the Agricultural Reserve-AR zone. This program utilizes a variety of revenue sources that include: Agricultural Transfer Tax revenues, Contributions, Developer Payments, Investment Income, and State Aid.
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Phase

Ongoing

Status

Active
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Budget Snapshot
$15.35M Total
Expenditures/Funding
$3.29M 6 Year Total
Expenditures/Funding
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Cost Change

Costs for FY25 and FY26 have been added to the project, as well as, FY20 funds related to a $2,705,000 Rural Legacy Program State grant and FY19 Agricultural Transfer Tax receipts in excess of the approved FY19 budget.
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Justification

Annotated Code of Maryland Agriculture Article 2-501 to 2-515, Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation; Annotated Code of Maryland Tax-Property Article 13-301 to 13-308, Agricultural Land Transfer Tax; and Montgomery County Code, Chapter 2B, Agricultural Land Preservation; and Executive Regulation 3-09 AM.
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Other

FY21 estimated Planning, Design and Supervision expenditures are $372,000, with $30,000 of these annual costs funded by Agricultural Transfer Tax revenues as authorized by State law. The amount includes funding for 1.0 FTE Business Development Specialist; 1.25 FTE administrative staff; $25,000 for the Deer Donation Program; $15,000 for the Montgomery Weed Control Program; and $72,000 for the Cooperative Extension Partnership. Appropriations are based upon a projection of Montgomery County's portion of the total amount of Agricultural Transfer Tax which has become available since the last appropriation and State Rural Legacy Program grant funding. Appropriations to this project represent a commitment of Agricultural Transfer Tax funds and State Aid to purchase agricultural easements, contributions from the Crown Farm Annexation Agreement, and partial BLT payments made by developers for additional density in BLT receiving areas. The Agricultural Transfer Taxes are deposited into an investment income fund, the interest from which is used to fund direct administrative expenses, the purchase of easements, and other agricultural initiatives carried out by the Office of Agriculture. The program permits the County to take title to the TDRs. These TDRs are an asset that the County may sell in the future, generating revenues for the Agricultural Land Preservation Fund. The County can use unexpended appropriations for this project to pay its share (40 percent) of the cost of easements purchased by the State. Since FY99, the County has received State RLP grant funds to purchase easements for the State through the County. The State allows County reimbursement of three percent for direct administrative costs such as appraisals, title searches, surveys, and legal fees. The traditional funding sources for this project are no longer sustainable. Easement acquisition opportunities will be considered on a case-by-case approach while alternative funding sources are identified.
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Fiscal Note

Land costs are for the purchasing of easements. An FY20 supplemental appropriation was approved to recognize the availability of additional FY19 Agricultural Transfer Tax revenue ($744,000) and an FY20 Rural Legacy State grant ($2,705,000).
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Disclosures

Expenditures will continue indefinitely. The County Executive asserts that this project conforms to the requirement of relevant local plans, as required by the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act.
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Coordination

Montgomery County Office of Agriculture, State of Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and Landowners.
Budget Snapshot
$15.35M Total
Expenditures/Funding
$3.29M 6 Year Total
Expenditures/Funding
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Project Details
Project NumberP788911
Date Last Modified01/04/20
Administering AgencyAgriculture
CategoryConservation of Natural Resources
SubCategoryAg Land Preservation
Planning AreaCountywide
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Total Expenditures by Cost Element (000s)
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Total Funding by Source (000s)
EXPENDITURES (000s)
Cost ElementsTotalThru FY19Est FY20Total 6 YearsFY 21FY 22FY 23FY 24FY 25FY 26Beyond 6 Years
Planning, Design and Supervision4484137283922733723753773803833860
Land108305808400210201701701701701701700
Site Improvements and Utilities00000000000
Construction00000000000
Other3737000000000
Total Expenditures153517217484132935425455475505535560
FUNDING (000s)
Funding SourceTotalThru FY19Est FY20Total 6 YearsFY 21FY 22FY 23FY 24FY 25FY 26Beyond 6 Years
Agricultural Transfer Tax3421967125412002002002002002002000
Contributions500005000070200142880
Developer Payments6423473443512541501982771502112680
Federal Aid5224794300000000
G.O. Bonds308308000000000
Intergovernmental00000000000
Investment Income7876838033919214700000
State Aid3390661272900000000
Total Funding Sources153517217484132935425455475505535560
APPROPRIATION AND EXPENDITURE DATA ($000s)
Appropriation FY 21 Request542
Year First AppropriationFY89
Appropriation FY 22 Request545
Last FY's Cost Estimate10793
Cumulative Appropriation12058
Expenditure / Encumbrances7259
Unencumbered Balance4799