SB942: Land Conservation Fund; disbursement of moneys.

SENATE BILL NO. 942
Offered January 10, 2007
Prefiled January 9, 2007
A BILL to amend and reenact § 10.1-1020 of the Code of Virginia, relating to disbursement of moneys from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.
Patron-- Ticer

Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That § 10.1-1020 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 10.1-1020. Virginia Land Conservation Fund; purposes of Foundation.

A. The Foundation shall establish, administer, manage, including the creation of reserves, and make expenditures and allocations from a special, nonreverting fund in the state treasury to be known as the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, hereinafter referred to as the Fund. The Foundation shall establish and administer the Fund solely for the purposes of:

1. Acquiring fee simple title or other rights, including the purchase of development rights, to interests or privileges in property for the protection or preservation of ecological, cultural or historical resources, lands for recreational purposes, state forest lands, and lands for threatened or endangered species, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas, agricultural and forestal lands and open space; and

2. Providing grants to state agencies, including the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and matching grants to other public bodies and holders for acquiring fee simple title or other rights, including the purchase of development rights, to interests or privileges in real property for the protection or preservation of ecological, cultural or historical resources, lands for recreational purposes, and lands for threatened or endangered species, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas, agricultural and forestal lands and open space. The Board shall establish criteria for making grants from the Fund, including procedures for determining the amount of each grant and the required match. The criteria shall include provisions for grants to localities for purchase of development rights programs.

Interests in land acquired as provided in subdivision 1 of this subsection may be held by the Foundation or transferred to state agencies or other appropriate holders. Whenever a holder acquires any interest in land other than a fee simple interest as a result of a grant or transfer from the Foundation, such interest shall be held jointly by the holder and a public body. Whenever a holder acquires a fee simple interest in land as a result of a grant or transfer from the Foundation, a public body shall hold an open space easement in such land.

B. The Fund shall consist of general fund moneys and gifts, endowments or grants from the United States government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and funds from any other available sources, public or private. Such moneys, gifts, endowments, grants or funds from other sources may be either restricted or unrestricted. For the purposes of this chapter, "restricted funds" shall mean those funds received by the Board to which specific conditions apply; "restricted funds" shall include, but not be limited to, general obligation bond moneys and conditional gifts. "Unrestricted funds" shall mean those received by the Foundation to which no specific conditions apply; "unrestricted funds" shall include, but not be limited to, moneys appropriated to the Fund by the General Assembly to which no specific conditions are attached and unconditional gifts.

C. After In any year in which the Fund contains less than $10 million in new deposits on September 1, and after an allocation for administrative expenses has been made as provided in subsection F G, the remaining unrestricted funds in the Fund shall be allocated as follows:

1. Twenty-five percent shall be transferred to the Virginia Outdoor Foundation's Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund to be used as provided in § 10.1-1801.1; and

2. Seventy-five percent shall be divided equally among the following four grant uses: (i) natural area protection; (ii) open spaces and parks, including but not limited to, land for public hunting, fishing or wildlife watching; (iii) farmlands and forest preservation; and (iv) historic area preservation. Of the amount allocated as provided in this subdivision, at least one third shall be used to secure easements to be held or co-held by a public body.

D. In any year in which the Fund contains $10 million or more in new deposits on September 1, and after an allocation for administrative expenses has been made as provided in subsection G, the remaining unrestricted funds in the Fund shall be allocated as follows:

1. Twenty-five percent shall be transferred to the Virginia Outdoor Foundation's Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund to be used as provided in § 10.1-1801.1; and

2. The remaining funds shall be divided equally among the following five grant uses: (i) natural area protection; (ii) open spaces and parks, including but not limited to, land for public hunting, fishing, or wildlife watching, (iii) farmland preservation; (iv) forestland conservation; and (v) historic area preservation.

E. Any moneys remaining in the Fund at the end of a biennium shall remain in the Fund, and shall not revert to the general fund. Interest earned on moneys received by the Fund other than bond proceeds shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any funds transferred to the Open Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund pursuant to this section and not disbursed or committed to a project by the end of the fiscal year in which the funds were transferred shall be returned to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund and shall be redistributed among the authorized uses during the next grant cycle.

EF. A portion of the Fund, not to exceed twenty percent of the annual balance of unrestricted funds, may be used to develop properties purchased in fee simple, or through the purchase of development rights, with the assets of the Fund for public use including, but not limited to, development of trails, parking areas, infrastructure, and interpretive projects or to conduct environmental assessments or other preliminary evaluations of properties prior to the acquisition of any property interest.

FG. Up to $250,000 per year of the interest generated by the Fund may be used for the Foundation's administrative expenses, including, but not limited to, the expenses of the Board and its members, development of the Foundation's strategic plan, development and maintenance of an inventory of properties as provided in subdivision 1 b of § 10.1-1021, development of a needs assessment for future expenditures as provided in subdivision 1 c of § 10.1-1021, and fulfillment of reporting requirements. All such expenditures shall be subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

GH. The Comptroller shall maintain the restricted funds and the unrestricted funds in separate accounts.

HI. For the purposes of this section, "public body" shall have the meaning ascribed to it in § 10.1-1700, and "holder" shall have the meaning ascribed to it in § 10.1-1009.