|BILL AS PASSED BY SENATE||2007-2008|
AN ACT RELATING TO THE USE VALUE APPRAISAL PROGRAM
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS; INTENT
(a) The general assembly finds that the use value appraisal program:
(1) Continues to achieve the goals of the program although the goal of protecting natural ecological systems was not being specifically met. The 20‑percent rule should be amended to allow for more flexibility in the enrollment of ecological areas, such as rare or exemplary natural communities, riparian buffers, wetlands, vernal pools, and significant wildlife habitat;
(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 the 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.
Sec. 3. PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX RETURN
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(e) is amended to read:
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 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. 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, and a fee of $25.00 for deposit in a special fund established and
managed pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of this title
, and which.
The fund shall be available as payment for the fees of the clerk of the
municipality and for the improvement of the program.
* * * Increase Time and Flexibility to Inspect Forest Parcels * * *
Sec. 5. 32 V.S.A. § 3755(b)(3) and (c) are amended to read:
there has not been filed with the director an adverse inspection report by the
department stating that the management of the tract is contrary to the forest
or conservation management plan, or contrary to the minimum acceptable
standards for forest or conservation management. The management activity
of conformance with any management plan shall be on a form
prescribed by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in consultation
with the commissioner of taxes and shall include a detachable section signed by
all the owners that shall contain the federal tax identification numbers of all
the owners. The section containing federal tax identification numbers shall
not be made available to the general public, but shall be forwarded to the
commissioner of taxes within 30 days after receipt and used for tax
administration purposes. If any owner shall satisfy the department that he or
she was prevented by accident, mistake or misfortune from filing a management
plan which is required to be filed on or before October 1 or an annual
conformance a management activity report which is required to be
filed on or before February 1 of the year following the year when the
management activity occurred, the department may receive that management plan
or annual conformance management activity report at a later date;
provided, however, no management plan shall be received later than December 31
and no annual conformance management activity report shall be
received later than March 1.
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 management
activity 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.
Sec. 6. 32 V.S.A. § 3756(i) is amended to read:
The director shall remove from use value appraisal an entire parcel of managed
forest land and notify the owner in accordance with the procedure in subsection
(b) of this section when the department of forests, parks and recreation has
not received a
conformance management activity report or has
received an adverse inspection report, unless the lack of conformance consists
solely of the failure to make prescribed planned cutting. In that case, the
director may delay removal from use value appraisal for a period of one year at
a time to allow time to bring the parcel into conformance with the plan.
* * * Allow for Management of Ecological Areas * * *
Sec. 7. COMMISSIONER OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION
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 identify certain ecologically sensitive areas that will be allowed to be managed for other purposes than 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) The commissioner shall take note of and incorporate criteria developed by the Vermont nongame and natural 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. The public shall be given an opportunity to comment on the amended standards.
(3) 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 shall be reviewed by the county foresters of the county where the parcel is located. In no situation shall a parcel be approved that does not provide for at least 80 percent of the land classified as Site 1, 2, or 3 to be managed for timber production.
(4) The amended standards shall be in effect before September 1, 2008.
(5) The commissioner shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy on the changes in the standards on or before January 15, 2009.
* * * Flexibility in Updating Use Value on Town Grand List * * *
Sec. 8. 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. 9. 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
Sec. 9a. 32 V.S.A. §3760 (a) is amended to read:
(a)(1) Annually the state
shall pay to each
town municipality the amount necessary to limit
its tax rate increase in the prior year due to the loss of municipal property
tax revenue for that year based on use value of enrolled property as compared
to municipal property tax revenue for that year based on fair market value of
enrolled property, to zero.
(2) The director of
property valuation and review shall determine the amount of the available funds
under this section to be paid to each
town municipality, and a town
municipality may appeal the director's decision in the same manner and
under the same procedures as an appeal from a decision of a board of civil
authority, as set forth in subchapter 2 of chapter 131 of this title.
(3) On November 1 of each
year, the director of property valuation and review shall pay to each
municipality the amount calculated as described in this section. If the
appropriation for the year is insufficient to pay the full amount due to every
municipality under this subsection, payments in that year shall be made
to such towns proportionately.
(4) If the appropriation for the year is insufficient to pay the full amount due to any town for enrolled property owned by another municipality, the town in which the property is located may assess the other municipality and the other municipality shall pay the difference.
(5) The director's calculation of payment amounts to municipalities shall be based on grand list values and total tax appropriations as submitted to the director for the prior year.
Sec. 10. ONE-TIME CURRENT USE PARCEL FEE
The department of taxes shall assess a one-time fee of $25.00 on each parcel enrolled on April 1, 2009 in the use value appraisal program established under chapter 124 of Title 32. The fee shall be due on or before June 1, 2009 and shall be deposited into the program special fund created pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 3756(e) for improvements to the program. If the fee is not paid by June 1, 2009, there shall be an additional $10.00 per month late fee, which shall accrue at the beginning of each subsequent month. Each parcel on which all or a portion of the one-time fee and late fees remain unpaid on June 1, 2010 shall be sent a notice of discontinuance, and the parcel shall be withdrawn from the program effective for the 2011 tax year and reinstated for subsequent tax years if in compliance with the requirements of the program.
Sec. 11. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect upon passage except for Sec. 8 which shall apply to grand lists of April 1, 2009 and after.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street