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Commission passes farmland protection plan

County officials plan to consider increasing the property transfer tax to pay for the preservation effort.

County officials plan to consider increasing the property transfer tax to pay for the preservation effort.

January 24, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission passed a farmland protection plan Thursday but did not act on any increase in a transfer tax that would help pay for the plan.

The five commissioners, Rusty Morgan, Greg Corliss, Al Hooper, James Knode and Commission President Jane Tabb, voted unanimously to pass the plan during their regular morning meeting.

Under the plan, farmers can be paid money in exchange for agreeing to save farmland under a protective easement.

Money to pay farmers can come from a variety of sources, including tax revenue and private sources, county officials have said.

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The state Legislature recently gave counties the ability to increase the rate of a transfer tax to raise money for farmland protection.

A property transfer tax is a tax generated when a piece of real estate is sold.

Currently, the county receives about $4.40 per $1,000 of land value through the transfer tax, according to Jefferson County Commission President Jane Tabb.

If the commissioners increase the transfer tax to the maximum allowable rate, the county would receive $6.60 per $1,000 of land value, said Tabb.

Some officials have said they believe up to $500,000 a year could be raised through the transfer tax.

The commissioners will discuss the transfer tax during their meeting on Thursday, Tabb said.

Tabb said she does not know how much land could be saved in the county or how much funding could be available to preserve land.

Farmland offered for preservation is rated based on a list of criteria including development pressure, the type of soil on the property and how close it is to other farmland that has been preserved, Shannon Donley, chairman of the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, has said.

The higher the score of the different areas, the higher rating the land will receive for possible protection, Donley said.

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