2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 12 - CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
CHAPTER 6A - LAND CONSERVATION
§ 12-6A-4 - Land conservation program; trust and loan funds established; segregation of funds; matching funds; opportunity for taxpayers to contribute; acceptance and administration of property by the department; partnerships with tax-exempt organizations
. Land conservation program; trust and loan funds established; segregation of funds; matching funds; opportunity for taxpayers to contribute; acceptance and administration of property by the department; partnerships with tax-exempt organizations
(a) The department may establish a land conservation program consistent with the purposes of this chapter.
(a.1) There is established the Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund and the Georgia Land Conservation Revolving Loan Fund to consist of any moneys paid to the authority under intergovernmental contract for purposes of this chapter, voluntary contributions to such funds, any federal moneys deposited in such funds, other moneys acquired for the use of such funds by any fund raising or other promotional techniques deemed appropriate by the authority, and all interest thereon. Moneys which are restricted as to their usage, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the kinds of projects for which the moneys can be expended or loaned, on the entity that can receive grants or loans of such moneys, on the manner in which such moneys can be expended or loaned, and any other condition, limitation, or restriction, may nevertheless be deposited in the funds so long as any such restriction does not prevent the moneys so deposited from being expended, loaned, or otherwise used in a manner that is consistent with the purposes of this chapter. All balances in the funds shall be deposited in interest-bearing accounts. The authority shall administer the funds, shall grant or loan moneys held in the funds in furtherance of the purposes of and pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, and shall prepare, by June 30 of each year, an accounting of the funds received and expended from the funds. The report shall be made available to the council, to the members of the General Assembly, and to members of the public on request.
(b) Within the trust fund, moneys shall be made available in each fiscal year for grants to cities and counties having an approved land conservation project; having complied with state laws, regulations, contracts, and agreements; and having matching funds at a percentage of the total project cost as established by the authority or for grants to the department, the commission, other state department or agency, or other state authority having an approved land conservation project.
(c) Within the revolving loan fund, moneys shall be made available in each fiscal year for loans to cities, counties, and nongovernmental entities having approved land conservation projects or for loans to state authorities specified by the department for purposes of approved land conservation projects of the department. Any such loan shall bear interest at a rate established by the authority.
(d) Moneys granted from the trust fund or from the revolving loan fund shall be expended solely to defray the costs of acquisition of conservation land as defined in this chapter or of conservation easements which contribute to the goals set out for conservation land in Code Section 12-6A-2
(e) As a condition of project approval and release of funds, the grant or loan recipient shall be required to record acquisitions of real or partial interest in land purchased by using grants or loans established in this chapter with the department.
(f) (1) Each Georgia income tax return form for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2005, shall contain appropriate language, to be determined by the state revenue commissioner, offering the taxpayer the opportunity to contribute to the Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund established in subsection (a) of this Code section by either donating all or any part of any tax refund due, by authorizing a reduction in the refund check otherwise payable, or by contributing any amount over and above any amount of tax owed by adding that amount to the taxpayer's payment. The instructions accompanying the income tax return form shall contain a description of the purposes for which this fund was established and the intended use of moneys received from the contributions. Each taxpayer required to file a state income tax return who desires to contribute to the Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund may designate such contribution as provided in this Code section on the appropriate income tax return form.
(2) The Department of Revenue shall determine annually the total amount so contributed, shall withhold therefrom a reasonable amount for administering this voluntary contribution program, and shall transmit the balance to the authority for deposit in the Georgia Land Conservation Trust Fund established in subsection (a.1) of this Code section; provided, however, that the amount retained for administrative costs shall not exceed $50,000.00 per year. If, in any tax year, the administrative costs of the Department of Revenue for collecting contributions pursuant to this Code section exceed the sum of such contributions, the administrative costs which the Department of Revenue is authorized to withhold from such contributions shall not exceed the sum of such contributions.
(g) The department may, by agreement with a city, county, or nongovernmental entity, accept and administer property acquired by such city, county, or nongovernmental entity pursuant to this chapter or may make such other agreements for the ownership and operation of the property as are outlined in Code Sections 12-3-32
(h) Cities, counties, the department, the commission, other state departments or agencies, and other state authorities may, by agreement with tax-exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code as established in a memorandum of understanding adopted by the council, enter into partnerships to assist with the development of land conservation project proposals, to assist with the establishment of a local funding match, and to accept and administer property acquired by a city, county, the department, the commission, other state department or agency, or other state authority pursuant to this chapter.
Graham Syfert - Jacksonville Lawyer