Tax and Bond Initiatives

By the Trust for Public Land

In order to implement a shared vision for local open space protection and preservation, communities need to create a predictable, consistent long-term “funding quilt” of financial resources. Combining the full range of potential funding sources -- local, state, federal, and private -- enhances localities’ success at implementing a conservation vision like those outlined in the Trust for Public Land’s Greenprinting approach. A “funding quilt” that includes a broad array of revenue sources is the hallmark of communities that are already forging ahead with their Greenprinting efforts.

With extensive competition for state and federal funds, the primary responsibility for funding any type of conservation program rests with local governments, through approval of local tax or bond legislation or ballot measures. State, federal, and private money will more likely serve as incentives or supplements. Relying upon funds other than locally derived dollars will likely forestall efforts.

Most communities have a variety of fiscal options and financing techniques available to them, ranging from federal and state incentives to local taxes and bonds. The goal is to tap as many sources as possible in order to leverage different funding sources and avoid too great a reliance on a single, potentially unpredictable, funding source.

Feasibility assessments and public opinion surveys are often used to identify sources of funding and to determine which local options and funding levels are economically prudent and publicly acceptable. Should a feasibility assessment indicate public support for conservation funding and, possibly, a ballot measure -- often the centerpiece in a larger funding strategy -- the steps for securing these conservation funds are as follows:

  1. Use private philanthropy to leverage public funding at all stages of greenprinting.
  2. Explore state, federal, and private funding sources, as well as partnerships and incentives, to develop a mix of sources and avoid a reliance on one source.
  3. Conduct research into local fiscal alternatives, as allowed by state or local law.
  4. Assess the public's conservation priorities and measure community support for various public-financing options.
  5. Design a public finance program or ballot measure that reflects public priorities and addresses local conservation challenges.

Local Tax and Bond Initiative News

  • Conservation Funding Wins Big at the Ballot

    The results of the November 2008 elections capped a record-breaking year in which voters approved 88 measures, totaling nearly $8.4 billion in new public funding for land conservation. Overview courtesy of the Trust for Public Land's Center for Conservation Finance.

    Read More

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