TO: Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
FROM: Ches Goodall – ACE Coordinator
DATE: October 15, 2008
RE: ACE Committee Concerns Regarding Long-Term Funding of ACE
During its October 13, 2008 meeting, the ACE Committee voted to express concern that while the Strategic Plan Objective calls for increasing the total combined acreage in permanent conservation easements and qualifying public parkland by 30,000 acres (50%) before June 30, 2010, the ACE program’s contribution to this effort continues to be hampered by its inability to acquire more of the eligible properties in a given applicant class. With sufficient funding, the ACE Committee ideally would like to be able to recommend acquisition of all eligible easements. However, in FY 2007-08, the County will likely be unable to acquire two outstanding family farms (Hudson and Thurman), which together would protect another 325 acres and eliminate 28 development rights. These two properties would cost $807,800, but ACE would have only $120,746 to expend after purchasing the Anderson and Garnett easements. In FY 2006-07, the County was unable to acquire easements on five eligible properties despite receiving grants of over $968,000. These five properties would have protected another 732 acres and eliminated 59 development rights. Though one solution might be to seek funds from the next fiscal year’s allocation to help purchase properties in the current fiscal year’s applicant pool, the Committee is concerned that: 1) additional funding through grants or gifts to replace these funds is uncertain; 2) budget constraints may lead to a reduction in the FY 2009-10 budget, thereby leaving even less for easement acquisition; and 3) increasing land acquisition costs may further erode the purchasing power for next year’s pool of applicants, thereby diminishing our ability to meet the Strategic Plan Objective of acquiring an additional 30,000 acres by 2010. Therefore, the Committee believes additional funding for the ACE Program is an absolute necessity if the County is to achieve the stated objectives of the Strategic Plan.
In the meantime, staff will continue to pursue grant funds from the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), the Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP), and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) in an effort to acquire an easement on the Michael Hudson farm, an ideal candidate for these funds. Since the OFP and FRPP will fund only 50% of the acquisition cost, the ACE Committee may seek additional funding from the Board (at a later date) to provide the match necessary to acquire Hudson. The $120,746 of funding left over after acquiring the Anderson and Garnett easements could be used for this match.
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