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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S NOTES In an attempt to fill the very large shoes vacated by my predecessor, James Conrad, in February of 2012 I was appointed Executive Director of the MALPF program. Jim lead the program for over 10 years, preserving more than 118,000 acres. Unfortunately, Jim had to retire for health reasons and is recuperating at home with his wife in Southern Maryland. I come to the position with institutional knowledge dating back to 1994, when I was hired as an Administrative Specialist. I have had the privilege of working with not one, but two very wise and knowledgeable Executive Directors and am confident that what I learned from them has laid the groundwork for me to continue this very important job of securing Maryland's agricultural land base for the future. FY 2012 was a busy year for the MALPF staff. We celebrated the program's 35th year. We also welcomed a new secretary, Angela Gaither. Angela came to us with some much needed experience in taking and transcribing minutes and has been a wonderful addition to the team. We made some major renovations to our governing law (Agriculture Article, §2-501- 2-518 of the Annotated Code of Maryland) mainly to remove all references to the MALPF districts. The district program had become an impediment to participation in the program and many potential participants were not willing to make the multi-year commitment required to be eligible to sell their easement to the State because they didn't know the likelihood of receiving an offer. Effective July 1, 2012, most MALPF districts were automatically terminated. Those MALPF districts which provide tax credits in some counties have been retained and are in the process of being transferred to those counties. The 2012 legislative session was a very big one for us. In addition to the MALPF legislation which will be discussed later, the passage of SB 236, best known as "The Septics Bill", signaled a change in the way development within the State will progress into the future. It is anticipated that the bill will have some impact on the MALPF program, though we cannot be sure what that ultimate impact might be. Some impact to the MALPF program is already evident in that some of the certified counties will be re-drawing the lines for their Priority Preservation Areas (PPAs) to coincide with their designation of Tiers, as required by the bill. Future easements can be purchased only in Tier 3 (areas not planned for sewerage service and containing but not dominated by agricultural or forest land) and Tier 4 (areas not planned for sewerage service that are planned or zoned for agricultural resource protection, preservation, or conservation, and is dominated by agricultural land, forest land, or other natural areas, Rural Legacy areas, and PPAs). It is the Foundation's hope that this designation will make it easier for non-certified counties to seek certification in the future. MALPF's annual audit for FY 2011 was conducted during FY 2012. There were two major findings that have been addressed. Database Verification -- We have gone through and verified acreage and expenditures from the actual paper documents compared to what was entered into the database. We are glad to report that we found only 27 errors in 2,077 records, an error rate of only 1.3. We have made those corrections to the database and we have updated and reconciled the database to the fixed assets inventory. Going forward we will continue this strategy. County Annual Reports and Collection of Overdue Agricultural Transfer Taxes - We have developed a process to monitor monthly agricultural transfer tax collections. We have written to all local subdivisions about annual reconciliation of revenues and expenditures. We will continue to use our internal process to follow up with local subdivisions when there are discrepancies. As a result of this process, we collected $219,363.75 overdue agricultural transfer taxes from three counties. Once again due to limited funding, MALPF combined FY 2011 and FY 2012 appropriations to conduct one easement acquisition offer cycle and maximize the number of acres to be purchased. We had nearly $30.4 million available for this cycle. Of this, almost $8.7 million was county funding used to match state funds at a ratio of 60 percent state to 40 percent county dollars. This funding secured acceptances on 59 offers which represent almost 6,800 acres. At the end of FY 2012, we had purchased easements on a cumulative total of 2,078 properties, permanently preserving about 282,957 acres, at a total state investment of more than $609 million. We are looking forward to FY 2013 being equally, if not more, exciting that 2012. Until then, remember to Buy Local and Eat Fresh.
1: Agriculture, Maryland Department of - Reports (Mandated)
Statue of Demeter, Greek Goddess of Agriculture, outside Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland] From Department From Units within Department ... ...

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