Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6397

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING OPEN SPACE PRESERVATION.

Vote Date:

3/6/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Finance, Revenue and Bonding

PH Date:

2/18/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill allows towns to impost a buyer's tax on certain real-estate transactions. The town will then be able to use this money on environmental projects.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Submitted

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Ralph Eno, First Selectman, Town of Lyme, supports this bill. The town of Lyme has had an open space reserve account for a number of years now. This account is funded exclusively with property tax dollars. When the economy is subject to recessionary pressure reserve fund items are usually the first to be cut. Having this reliable, alternative revenue stream flowing directly into a dedicated open space reserve account would go a long way toward mitigating the impact of the economic downturn. This bill also compliments the sate's commitment to facilitate Smart Growth initiatives.

Jiff Martin, Project Director, Working Lands Alliance, supports this bill. Working Lands Alliance has examined the success of this program in eastern Long Island and they concluded its potential impact on farmland preservation in Connecticut would be outstanding. More than 6,000 acres of land have been protected that otherwise would have been lost to development on Long Island. Working Lands Alliance would like to see this bill amended to allow an exemption for farmer-to-farmer transactions. They would also like to see an amendment in order to replicate how the NY law uses three categories of exemption of property value from the real estate conveyance tax.

Martin Mador, Legislative and Political Chair, Connecticut Sierra Club, supports this bill. Preservation of open space and farmland is a priority for the Sierra Club. It is clear that we need to provide towns ways of raising funds as alternatives to the pernicious property tax. Each town must decide on their own whether to impost this fee. This fee is equitable in that it would be paid by those who would benefit from it. In many areas of New England it has been very successfully used as a financing vehicle.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Tim Calnen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Connecticut Association of Realtors, opposes this bill. This bill is a double-dip; Connecticut already taxes real estate transactions via a State Conveyance tax and by at least two distinct municipal conveyance taxes.

Reported by: Chris Zavagnin

Date: 3/27/09