Conservation Use a Key Tool to PreservationZahner Bailey is a Proponent of Conservation Use Valuation as a Mechanism for Preserving Greenspace & our Equestrian & Agricultural Community...
In the current Milton Beacon, in another string of negative advertisements, my opponent claims that I under-pay my property taxes. For the record, the Bailey's pay their taxes.It's a shame my opponent's latest negative ad fails to mention that our family's land was placed into "Conservation Use" in 2003 - long before Milton was even a concept - as a way to protect this land from development and to demonstrate our commitment to green space, preserving the environment and promoting lower density.
You would think someone claiming to be a CPA would have knowledge of a long standing, state sponsored tax incentive called Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA). It is available to citizens like me as a mechanism for conservation of our agricultural and farmlands, timber land and wildlife habitats.
CUVA also helps promote Georgia's agri-tourism business where the general public can tour a farm in operation and/or purchase products on site. Every year school children take field trips to farms for educational purposes.
Without this tax incentive many farmers and other qualified landowners would simply not be able to afford to own large parcels for active farms or wildlife habitats. These preserved lands would simply be replaced by intense development which is in stark contrast to the mission of Milton to promote our rural character.
My family's land meets the eligibility requirements in several categories encouraged by CUVA and the State. CUVA helps make our stewardship of the land a reality and enables us to truly live our commitment as long-term stewards of the community. I love this community and am committed to conserving open green space and preserving its environment and unique heritage.
These are the very reasons that the Statewide CUVA program exists. I have promoted conservation use for many years in hopes that more landowners embrace these available tools for preservation. From 1992 the enrollment in the number of properties in conservation increased from 16,000 to 81,000 by 2002. This includes 447 properties in Fulton County and 139 properties in Milton that participate currently in the conservation program.
In September 2007, Milton's finance department presented the benefits of CUVA at a town hall meeting concerning taxes of which CUVA was discussed. However, we need to do more to communicate the existence of these valuable and necessary tools.
Here's how this Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) works:
Basically, if you own between 10 and 2,000 acres of land and utilize that land for certain purposes as defined by the State, you are eligible for a CUVA. Some of the uses include:
- Raising, harvesting, or storing crops; feeding, breeding, or managing livestock or poultry; producing plants, trees, fowl, or animals; production of aquaculture, horticulture, floriculture, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry, and apiarian products.
Tax Savings and Commitment:
In exchange for committing not to develop your land and to continue to use it for the defined conservation purposes, a Conservation Use Valuation Assessment is applied to the property resulting in a reduced tax. The State's Basic Formula: Tax Liability = 40% of current use value x Local County Millage Rate.
The property owner must commit to non-development in increments of 10 years. If for any reason the land does not continue to meet State regulations for conservation then a penalty and back taxes would be due.
As a result, this program is not for everyone, but for those willing to make the commitment to maintain their land in State-defined conservation use. It is a win-win for the community and the landowner.
You may wish to speak to a knowledgeable CPA or other financial advisor to see if the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment would fit into your long-term goals. My family has been committed to this program for years and will continue to do so.
All my best,
Julie Zahner Bailey
Milton City Council
A Postive Leader for a Positive Milton