Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life restored to Williamson Act, at least for now

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a budget trailer bill that puts $10 million into the Williamson Act.

That means the popular farmland-preservation program will get a virtual $30 million of its funding restored for next year — at last as far as counties are concerned.

A recent legislative alteration of the Act is expected to restore around $20 million to state coffers. But in order for counties to receive that revenue, landowners have stepped up: counties can alter Williamson Act contracts to slightly raise property taxes on a temporary basis, thereby increasing their own revenue.

But that's better than counties exiting the program altogether, as some have threatened to do since Schwarzenegger cut Williamson Act funding from the last year's state budget.

"It means the difference of life and death for many family farms and ranches,” said Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, in a statement.

Check back for more details on how it all breaks down.

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