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Funds to save farmland OK'd

November 28, 2001

Funds to save farmland OK'd



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a proposal to commit $597,000 to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

The farmland preservation program requires a 60-40 match, which means that for every $40 the county commits, the state donates $60.

The program is intended to protect farm land from development. Owners are paid not to develop their land.

On Oct. 9, the commission committed $300,000 from its budget surplus to the program. The rest of the $597,000 share is being funded by proceeds from the Agriculture Transfer Tax, Land Preservation Administrator Eric Seifarth said Tuesday.

In November 2000 the commissioners committed $304,000 to the program.

Washington County is trying to get as much as possible out of the farmland preservation program this year, Seifarth said.

The big question is whether the state government will change the program as it faces possible budget shortfalls, he said.

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Through the 22-year-old program, Washington County has spent about $10 million to buy about 7,000 acres, Seifarth said.

The county has money through the program which it has not yet spent. If the state matches the county share this year, the county would have $1.8 million for the program - enough to buy about 800 acres, Seifarth said.

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