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Introduced by Representatives Clarkson of Woodstock, Malcolm of Pawlet and Winters of Williamstown

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Taxation and finance; property tax; agricultural and forest land

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to enact the proposals of the use value appraisal task force.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


(a)  The general assembly finds that the use value appraisal program:

(1)  Continues to achieve the goals of the program;

(2)  Needs electronic coordination;

(3)  Must have staff increases at the division of property valuation and review and at the department of forests, parks and recreation;

(4)  Needs administrative streamlining;

(5)  Should provide consistent oversight between the agricultural and forest land programs;

(6)  Should generate more funding for sufficient administration of the program;

(7)  Has serious misperceptions about it in the minds of the general public, listers, potentially eligible landowners, enrolled landowners, attorneys, and realtors that the state must lead an educational effort to correct.

(b)  Therefore, the general assembly intends that this act will improve this successful program.

* * * New Application at Time of Transfer of Ownership * * *

Sec. 2.  32 V.S.A. § 3756(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Once a use value appraisal has been applied for and granted under this section, such appraisal shall remain in effect for subsequent tax years pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) of this section, and until the property concerned is transferred to another owner or is no longer eligible under provisions of section 3752 or 3755 of this chapter, or due to a change of use or as otherwise provided in section 3757 of this chapter.  If enrolled property is transferred to another owner, the new owner shall be entitled to continue to have the eligible property appraised at its use value, provided the property remains eligible and provided the new owner shall elect continuation of use value appraisal on the property transfer tax return at the time of transfer and, within 30 days of the transfer, has applied to the director and paid the fees described in this subsection.  The grant of use value appraisals of agricultural forest land and farm buildings shall be recorded in the land records of the municipality by the clerk of the municipality.  The department of taxes may collect from applicants the fees specified in subdivision 1671(a)(6) or subsection 1671(c) of this title, for deposit in a special fund established and managed pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of this title, and which shall be available as payment for the fees of the clerk of the municipality.


     The commissioner of taxes shall amend the property transfer tax return to include an election to continue eligible property in the use value appraisal program at the time of transfer to a new owner, as allowed under

32 V.S.A. § 3756(e).

* * * Application Fee * * *

Sec. 4.  32 V.S.A. § 3756(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The owner of eligible agricultural land, farm buildings or managed forest land shall be entitled to have eligible property appraised at its use value provided the owner shall have applied to the director on or before September 1 of the previous tax year, on a form approved by the board and provided by the director.  A fee of $25.00 shall accompany the application.  A farmer, whose application has been accepted on or before December 31 by the director of the division of property valuation and review of the department of taxes for enrollment for the use value program for the current tax year, shall be entitled to have eligible property appraised at its use value, if he or she was prevented from applying on or before September 1 of the previous year due to the severe illness of the farmer.

* * * Increase Time and Flexibility to Inspect Forest Parcels * * *

Sec. 5.  32 V.S.A. § 3755(c) is amended to read:

(c)  At intervals not to exceed five years, the The department of forests, parks and recreation shall audit periodically review the management plans and each year review the conformance reports for each parcel of managed forest land qualified for use value appraisal.  Likewise, at that have been filed.  At intervals not to exceed five ten years, that department shall inspect each tract parcel of managed forest land qualified for use value appraisal to verify that the terms of the management plan have been carried out in a timely fashion.  If that department finds that the management of the tract is contrary to the conservation or forest management plan, or contrary to the minimum acceptable standards for conservation or forest management, it shall file with the owner, the assessing officials and the director an adverse inspection report within 30 days of the inspection.

* * * Allow for Management of Ecological Areas * * *


The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall amend the minimum standards of forest management to expand the eligibility of Site 4 land and to allow certain identified areas not to be managed for timber production, as follows:

(1)  A parcel may be eligible if no more than 20 percent of the acres to be enrolled are Site 4, plus open and not to be restocked within two years, plus ecologically significant areas designated by the department.  These acres need not be managed for timber production.

(2)  If more than 20 percent of the acres to be enrolled are Site 4, plus open plus ecologically significant and not to be managed for timber production,

landowners may apply to the commissioner for approval.  The applications

would be reviewed by the county foresters.  In no situation would a parcel be

approved that did not provide for at least 80 percent of the land classified

as Site 1, 2, or 3 to be managed for timber production.  The commissioner

should take note and consider the criteria developed by the National

Heritage Program, the American Tree Farm System, and the Forest Stewardship Council, in addition to the criteria submitted in testimony, for determining ecologically sensitive areas.

(3)  The amended standards shall be in effect before September 1, 2008.

* * * Flexibility in Updating Use Value on Town Grand List * * *

Sec. 7.  32 V.S.A. § 4111(e) and (g) are amended to read:

(e)  When the listers return the grand list book to the town clerk, they shall notify by first class mail, on which postage has been prepaid and which has been addressed to their last known address, all affected persons, listed as property owners in the grand list book of any change in the appraised value of such property or any change in the allocation of value to the homestead as defined under subdivision 5401(7) of this title or the housesite as defined under subdivision 6061(11) of this title, and also notify them of the amount of such change and of the time and place fixed in the public notice hereinafter provided for, when persons aggrieved may be heard.  No notice shall be required for a change solely to reflect a new use value set by the current use advisory board.  Notices shall be mailed at least 14 days before the time fixed for hearing.  Such personal notices shall be given in all towns and cities within the state, anything in the charter of any city to the contrary notwithstanding.  At the same time, the listers shall post notices in the town clerk’s office and in at least four other public places in the town or in the case of a city, in such other manner and places as the city charter shall provide, setting forth that they have completed and filed such book as an abstract and the time and place of the meeting for hearing grievances and making corrections.  Unless the personal notices required hereby were sent by registered or certified mail, or unless an official certificate of mailing of the same was obtained from the post office, in the case of any controversy subsequently arising it shall be presumed that the personal notices were not mailed as required.

(g)  A person who feels aggrieved by the action of the listers and desires to be heard by them, shall, on or before the day of the grievance meeting, file with them his or her objections in writing and may appear at such grievance meeting in person or by his or her agents or attorneys.  No grievance shall be allowed for a change solely to reflect a new use value set by the current use advisory board.  Upon the hearing of such grievance, the parties thereto may submit such documentary or sworn evidence as shall be pertinent thereto.

* * * Municipalities Allowed to Enroll Land in Other Municipalities * * *

Sec. 8.  32 V.S.A. § 3752(10) is amended to read:

(10)  “Owner” means the person who is the owner of record of any land, provided that a municipality shall not be an owner for purposes of this subchapter.  When enrolled land is mortgaged, the mortgagor shall be deemed the owner of the land for the purposes of this subchapter, until the mortgagee takes possession, either by voluntary act of the mortgagor or foreclosure, after which the mortgagee shall be deemed the owner.


This act shall apply to grand lists of April 1, 2009 and after.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont