Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Will Finance Take Up Municipal Green Fund?

Municipal Green Fund Bill sails through Environment Committee

Needs public support to move ahead

HB6397 is the currently pending Green Fund/Open Space bill which would allow communities to create a local fund for conservation of land, air, water and energy resources. Funds would be raised by imposing a 1% local conveyance fee on buyers of real estate. The bill passed in the Environment Committee by a healthy 21-6 margin, and at this writing is awaiting consideration by the Finance Committee.

Surveys have shown strong support for this bill among members of the State House and Senate. However, if a bill does not come up for a vote, it dies. Public pressure is the key to action.It is important that legislators know you care about getting it raised and voted on.

HB6397 is a priority issue for the Sierra Club, Audubon, the Working Lands Alliance, the CT Land Conservation Coalition, CFE, CF&P, and numerous other environmental organizations.

It is a sleeper bill in that the funding comes in small amounts to those communities that levy the fee. But with a steady stream, the total volume of money for conservation will add up to large amounts of funding for conservation over time. Communities in other states have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in this way over the past decade, in a very popular program used mostly for open space and farmland conservation. In a "buyer's market" for land, the 1% fee is small compared to the amounts buyers are saving by lowered real estate prices. Fees are waived for the first $150,000 in price, to lessen its impact on affordable housing transactions. Your ability to impact your legislator will be at its peak if you call, mail or email this week.

David Bingham, Sierra Green Fund Coordinator dbbingham@sbcglobal.net or 860-859-1247.

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