Sandown's Conservation Fund could see less money

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Sandown's Conservation Fund could see less money

Postby curt » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:06 am

Published: January 29, 2010 01:41 am

Sandown's Conservation Fund could see less money
By Jillian Jorgensen
jjorgensen@eagletribune.com

SANDOWN — A proposed warrant article could cut in half the amount of money the Conservation Fund receives through land-use-change tax revenue, usually used to buy open space in town.

The article, which will be considered by voters at Saturday's deliberative session, would put one-half of this revenue into the fund and the other half into the town's general fund.

The Conservation Fund has received all the revenue since 2005. It was decided at Town Meeting that year to begin putting the money into the fund.

The 10 percent tax is assessed when an owner of property classified as open space changes its use.

"They parade around the fact that they don't ever have to come to the town for money to buy land," selectmen's Chairman Nelson Rheaume said of the Conservation Commission.

But Rheaume said the town has footed most of the bill for the purchase of 138 acres abutting the town forest in 2008. The bond, which required 60 percent approval at Town Meeting, was approved, 773-567.

The land cost $1.6 million. Commission member Mark Traeger said the fund had about $650,000 that was put toward the purchase. He said the fund might have had more money in it — and a bond might not have been needed — if all revenues from the tax went to the Conservation Fund from the beginning instead of just since 2005.

"I think it's incredibly shortsighted," Traeger said of the warrant article.

Last year, the tax revenue amounted to about $88,000, he said.

Brian Butler, also a commission member, said a Town Meeting vote would be needed in 2011 to decide what to do with the town's share of the money if the article is approved. Even if the money goes toward lowering taxes, it would not amount to much per home, he said.

"By saving a few dollars now, we lose out on the benefits later," Butler said.

Both Butler and Traeger argued that open space is less of a tax burden in town than homes with children who attend public schools.

From the time the tax became law in 1973 until 2000, all the revenue went straight to the town, Traeger said.

"The town has nothing to show for it," he said.

The article can be amended Saturday at the deliberative session, which begins at 8 a.m. at Town Hall.
Curt Springer
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Re: Sandown's Conservation Fund could see less money

Postby curt » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:07 am

Danville puts 100% of the current use change tax into the conservation fund. I support this but I'd like to see more accountability for the use of the fund.
Curt Springer
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Re: Sandown's Conservation Fund could see less money

Postby shawn_oneil » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:27 am

curt wrote:Danville puts 100% of the current use change tax into the conservation fund. I support this but I'd like to see more accountability for the use of the fund.


Curt,
I support this as well, but can you expand on your comment about accountability?
Thanks,
Shawn
Shawn O'Neil


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The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” –Margaret Thatcher
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