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Budget Year / Version:  
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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
$20.52M Total
Expenditures/Funding
$3.7M 6 Year Total
Expenditures/Funding
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Cost Change

Costs for FY27 and FY28 have been added to the project, as well as FY22 funds related to a $2,722,761 Rural Legacy Program State grant, and contributions from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission of $953,055, and additional funding for FY23 easement purchases.
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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

FY23 estimated Planning, Design and Supervision expenditures are $356,000, 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; 1.0 FTE assigned to the University of Maryland Extension; 0.25 FTE Public Administration Associate; $25,000 for the Deer Donation Program; $15,000 for the Montgomery Weed Control Program; and $75,000 for the Cooperative Extension Partnership. The Council approved eliminating expenditures not related to agricultural easement purchases for FY24-28, which includes 1.0 FTE assigned to the University of Maryland Extension; 0.25 FTE Public Administration Associate; $25,000 for the Deer Donation Program; $15,000 for the Montgomery Weed Control Program; and $75,000 for the Cooperative Extension Partnership. These expenditures will be included in the operating budget beginning in FY24. 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. 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). The Office of Agriculture was able to settle easements from the Rural Legacy State grant received in FY21, of which, $2,497,047.65 has been spent.
An FY22 supplemental was approved to recognize contributions from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for the acquisition of a farm encumbered by a County Agricultural Preservation easement ($953,055), as well as a Rural Legacy Program grant (State Aide) for the amount of $2,722,761. The Council added $500,000 in general fund current revenue in FY23 to support agricultural easement purchases.
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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
$20.52M Total
Expenditures/Funding
$3.7M 6 Year Total
Expenditures/Funding
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Project Details
Project NumberP788911
Date Last Modified05/06/22
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 FY21Est FY22Total 6 YearsFY 23FY 24FY 25FY 26FY 27FY 28Beyond 6 Years
Planning, Design and Supervision3934183112058983561021051081121150
Land165518695505328036704274274274264260
Site Improvements and Utilities00000000000
Construction00000000000
Other3737000000000
Total Expenditures20522105636258370110265295325355385410
FUNDING (000s)
Funding SourceTotalThru FY21Est FY22Total 6 YearsFY 23FY 24FY 25FY 26FY 27FY 28Beyond 6 Years
Agricultural Transfer Tax38211244137712002002002002002002000
Contributions14990953546042332172000
Current Revenue: General50000500500000000
Developer Payments635949825358420001633383410
Federal Aid545479432323000000
G.O. Bonds308308000000000
Intergovernmental00000000000
Investment Income127539239548820128700000
State Aid621531582955102102000000
Total Funding Sources20522105636258370110265295325355385410
APPROPRIATION AND EXPENDITURE DATA ($000s)
Appropriation FY 23 Request1026
Year First AppropriationFY89
Appropriation FY 24 Request529
Last FY's Cost Estimate15351
Cumulative Appropriation16821
Expenditure / Encumbrances10611
Unencumbered Balance6210