Part of the additional revenue would be used to agricultural preservation.
Frederick, Md (KM). A proposal to increase Frederick County’s recordation fee by $1 has been put forward by County Executive Jan Gardner. During her public information briefing on Thursday, Gardner said this increase in the fee on real estate transactions would bring in $6.8-million in additional revenue, part of which will be used to provide additional funds to agricultural preservation.
She says it’s vital for the county to act now to protect its farmland. “So I think it’s important to seize this opportunity before our farmland is lost to development, or speculators who will buy land and hold it for decades waiting for more development to come,” she says.
Frederick County currently has 1300 farms and 180,000 acres in agriculture. Gardner says the county’s goal is to preserve 100,000 acres of agricultural land. Right now,only 66,000 acres is being preserved, 94% of that in permanent preservation.
The current recordation tax fee in Frederick County is $6.00 per $500 of consideration. The increase, if it passes, will go to $7.00 per $500 of consideration. “So I do recognize the proposed change would set Frederick County’s recordation fee higher than most other counties in the state of Maryland,” says Gardner. “However, there is an important difference: most counties charge both a recordation and a transfer tax of up to 1% on real estate transactions. Frederick County does not have a transfer tax.”
The proposal calls for the first $500,000 of the additional $6.8-million of additional revenue be used for economic development grants to support agriculture diversification; grants to rural historic preservation; and first-time homebuyer assistance. The remaining amount would fund agricultural preservation programs.
Gardner says right now,there’s a strong interest among farmers to put their properties in agricultural preservation, but there’s not enough funding to meet this demand. For example, she says there were 46 applications for the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation But only five or six can be served.
In her briefing, the County Executive said this bill has the support of farming community, the Agriculture Preservation Board, the Agriculture Business Council and the Farm Bureau.
“I do think that this is a program that’s works. It is something people will pay as a one-time fee once and a while. I think it is something the people in our county value. They value our rich history, and they value preserving what we have and what we love here in Frederick County,” says Gardner.
She says County Council Vice President Michael Blue and Councilman Jerry Donald have agreed to introduce the bill on behalf of the County Executive.
By Kevin McManus