There’s an important hearing on Current Use tomorrow night (Tuesday, January 28) at the State House in Montpelier, and we hope you can attend and speak in support of this critical conservation program.
Here’s the background:
In 2013, the Vermont House passed H.329 that would, among other things, strengthen the program by raising the penalty for taking land out and developing it.
The Senate is now considering other changes to Current Use, but instead of raising the penalty for people who develop their land, proposed legislation would penalize people who are enrolled in the program by capping the benefit in areas with high land values.
VNRC opposes capping the benefit because it would penalize people who are in the program, especially famers or forestland owners who are land rich and cash poor and happen to be in areas with high property values. The cap could push more people to subdivide and develop their property – something that actually runs counter to the underlying goals of the Current Use program.
Raising the development penalty is a better idea. Raising the penalty would deter land speculators from abusing the program by “parking” land in Current Use for a few years, reaping the tax benefit, paying the currently modest penalty, and then developing the parcel. It is also a better revenue source to support the long-term viability of farms and forests.
VNRC will be testifying tomorrow night opposing the cap and supporting efforts to keep people enrolled in the program to maintain our rural and working landscape.
Please join us to support the Current Use Program and policies that will improve the overall stability of the program, such as fixing a weak development penalty.
Here is an overview of the issue prepared by VNRC. Email Jamey Fidel for further information, including details about the upcoming hearing.
Thanks for all you do!
The VNRC Team