Conservation Advocates Applaud Introduction of the Governor’s Bill to Conserve Connecticut’s Valuable Ecosystems Including the Municipal Funding Option and Other Innovative Concepts.
HARTFORD (February 25, 2021) – As part of the FY 2022 – 2023 Biennial Budget proposal, Governor Ned Lamont introduced An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation (HB 6441) to be the subject of a Public Hearing before the Environment Committee. This bill aligns with the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) Phase 1 Report & Recommendations that followed an inclusive public process. The GC3 recommendations were made to the Governor on January 15, 2021.
This bill proposes to enact a number of these GC3 recommendations into law. Passage of HB 6441 will result in new tools to help municipalities adapt to climate change. HB 6441 includes provisions to allow a municipality to: i) establish a stormwater utility; ii) establish a municipal buyer’s conveyance fee; and iii) expand a flood and erosion control board into a flood prevention, climate resilience and erosion control board. The bill also expands the authority of the Connecticut Green Bank to establish and manage an Environmental Infrastructure Fund.
Conservation advocates are particularly pleased with the proposal to authorize a local buyer’s conveyance fee program. This voluntary program would give municipalities an option to generate their own revenue for land stewardship, climate adaptation, resilience, and other community environmental projects, such as urban forestry and tree planting.
“We are grateful to the Governor for his leadership in providing municipalities with the option to pursue alternative, creative funding mechanisms to help them address climate change and achieve their land conservation, stewardship, and community planning goals,” said Connecticut Land Conservation Council executive director Amy Blaymore Paterson.
Robert LaFrance, Director of Policy for Audubon Connecticut said, “We applaud the leadership of the Governor and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for moving the recommendations of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) into a bill that the General Assembly can fully embrace. Passage of this bill will authorize funding, including the Municipal Option, to protect Connecticut’s valuable, yet vulnerable, ecosystems from harm in the face of climate change.”
“To provide effective mechanisms for funding critical services at the local level, COST supports efforts to develop alternative revenue streams to help reduce reliance on the property tax as well as on state aid to municipalities,” said Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST).
Many towns are also struggling to find the funds for stewardship of local open spaces that are essential to mitigating the impacts of climate change. Said Guilford Environmental Planner Kevin Magee, “This bill could help the town fund maintenance of Guilford’s open space and farmland, as well as climate resilience projects. It would also allow the town to work with private organizations such as the Guilford Land Trust to help steward these essential community resources.”
Realtor Evan Griswold of Old Lyme noted, “Studies in assessing the impact of open space on town real estate values have documented that properties adjacent or in proximity to open lands yielded a result of 2-2 1/2 % gain in value over other properties. With a boon in real estate sales, we are seeing that trend play out in many counties throughout Connecticut.”
Said Paterson, “We commend Governor Lamont for his foresight in continuing to invest in local land conservation and other community projects which build sustainable economies and benefit quality of life in municipalities across the state.”
About Audubon Connecticut:
Audubon Connecticut, a state office of the National Audubon Society, protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.ct.audubon.org, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the Connecticut Land Conservation Council:
As the umbrella organization for the state’s land conservation community, including its 130+ land trusts, the Connecticut Land Conservation Council advocates for land conservation, stewardship, and funding, and works to ensure the long-term strength and viability of the land conservation community in Connecticut. Learn more at www.ctconservation.org, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Amy Blaymore Paterson
Executive Director, Connecticut Land Conservation Council
Policy Director, Audubon Connecticut