Review of Land Use Taxation Program




Decision regarding appointment of study committee and/or re-validation of the Land Use Taxation Program




Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, and Wiggans







April 9, 2008


ACTION:    X            INFORMATION:    



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   











The Board of Supervisors recently requested that staff bring the County’s Land Use Taxation Program to it for discussion earlier than currently scheduled in the Community Development Work Plan.  Review of this program was included among the numerous strategies identified in the most recent amendment to the Comprehensive Plan regarding the Rural Areas.  Staff is in the process of preparing information for the Board’s consideration regarding whether to implement a re-validation program in order to eliminate potential abuse.  This item was scheduled for Board review in May.  Re-validation has been discussed a number of times over the past several years, with no clear conclusion from the Board on whether or not to proceed.  


Both the broader policy issue of potential changes to the Land Use Taxation Program and the narrower issue of assuring the quality of the current program through re-validation was previously discussed by the Board in 2001.  The attached executive summary and minutes from that meeting (Attachments A and B) provide a good overview of various alternatives that may be considered in bringing about potential changes to the program, as well as covering the re-validation process.  At the conclusion of the Board’s discussion in 2001, a majority of the Board decided not to consider changes to the Land Use Taxation Program, but agreed to further review re-validation.  However, when this item was brought back to the Board for consideration, the Board decided not to pursue re-validation.  In 2005, the Board again asked for a review of re-validation and once again decided not to pursue it.  Finally, in 2007, the Board requested staff to bring forward information to reconsider re-validation and subsequently asked for a review of the entire program for various reasons, including the fact that the program was identified as a potential strategy in the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan.




Objective: “By June 30, 2010 increase the protection of the County's rural areas by implementing the key strategies in the Rural Areas Plan.”




Given the numerous discussions the Board has had since 2001 regarding the Land Use Taxation Program, clarification of the Board’s objectives for reconsidering the program is needed to determine how to effectively move forward.  If the Board’s objective is to ensure that only truly qualified land is included in the program in order to eliminate potential abuse, re-validation is an appropriate option to pursue.  However, if the Board’s objective is focused on reconsidering eligibility for land to be placed under land use taxation, the length of time land is restricted from development, or another broader policy issue, there are a number of options that could be pursued.  The advantages and disadvantages of re-validation and these other options regarding the eligibility length of time land is restricted from development, etc. are addressed in the 2001 executive summary (Attachment A). Based on the Board’s discussion and clarification of its objectives for addressing this program, staff will be able to better assist the Board in moving forward on the issues of policy changes and/or a re-validation program.


Staff is prepared to proceed with an evaluation of the entire program or re-validation, depending on the Board’s direction.    As previously indicated, reconsideration of the land use program is among many strategies for protection of the Rural Areas. In order to evaluate this program, this strategy calls for the establishment a committee, whose charge and membership would need to be determined by the Board.  While the Finance Department is prepared to move forward with re-validation, the much more extensive evaluation involved with reconsideration of the Land Use Taxation Program overall will have a more significant impact on staff and will require balancing this initiative with other previously approved work priorities.


In considering whether to reevaluate the program through the creation of a committee, the Board should prioritize this effort alongside the work of an already stretched staff. A work session on prioritizing rural area strategies was previously requested by the Board and is scheduled after the conclusion of the budget process.  If the Board wishes to proceed with the formation of a committee today, it will effectively prioritize this review over other rural area strategies due to the staff time and effort needed to examine the program through a committee process. Furthermore, in considering whether to create a committee, the Board should consider whether proceeding is appropriate given the advantages and disadvantages outlined in Attachment  A.  In particular, the Board will need to carefully consider the potential consequences to rural area development with any potential change and also its potential of having the opposite consequence regarding rural area development, as is outlined in the attached analysis.




The budget impact of this item depends on the direction provided by the Board on how to proceed.  However, unless consultant services are required, staff anticipates a minimal budget impact with either direction the Board may pursue.




Given the current staffing levels in Community Development and the fact that re-validation is a step that would address the issue of potential abuse of the land use program, staff recommends that the formation of a committee be reconsidered after re-validation is implemented and its impact can be evaluated.  If the Board approves this recommendation, a review of re-validation will be brought before the Board at the first meeting in May. 


Should the Board decide to move forward with the formation of a committee to evaluate the Land Use Taxation Program, staff will need clarification regarding the Board’s objectives so that a clear charge can be developed for the committee’s work.  If this is the direction the Board chooses, staff will also bring the Community Development Work Plan back to the Board for re-prioritization and to determine the committee’s membership.




A – September 5, 2001 Executive Summary

B – September 5, 2001 Board Minutes

Return to regular agenda