There are some changes to the Clean and Green Act in Carbon County.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution which updated sections 5490.4 and 5490.5b of the act.
Under the action, the Carbon County Board of Assessment Appeals will now charge a $50 application fee to cover administrative duties with the application.
Landowners whose land are in the Clean and Green Program must also submit notice to the Board of Assessment Appeals at least 30 days prior to any transfer of land or any proposed changes in the way the land is used. If this is not done before any changes occur, a $100 violation fee will be sent to the landowner. The fee covers administrative duties to determine the rollback taxes that are owed on the land that was once in the program.
The Clean and Green Act provides landowners who own 10 acres or more of contiguous property with the opportunity to devote the land to either agricultural use for farming, agricultural reserve which means the land was once farmed but has now been designated to be open for public use or forest reserve which allows the land to be timbered.
Once the application ifs filed, the county tax assessment office determines the value of the property using information from the state. The taxes are then lowered based on the determination and the type of use.
If the landowner leaves the program, changes the land's intended use or transfers a portion of the property to another person, that portion of land is no longer considered in the program and back taxes must be paid back.
"We have found a person sometimes sells a portion of land that has been placed in the Clean and Green program and never notifies the assessment office, which creates additional work," said Commissioner William O'Gurek, concerning the $100 violation fee. "This part of the resolution is designed to prevent these instances from occurring. The amount of taxes owed because of leaving the program are turned over to the Tax Claim Bureau to collect. Accordingly, the $100 penalty will too."
In other matters, the board voted to apply for a $250,000 902 Recycling Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The funds would go toward the purchase of a new compactor truck for the recycling program. The total cost is expected to be $292,765, with the county providing $42,765 for the grant.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, said the solid waste program has not received any new equipment since 2008 and that the current trucks have over 200,000 miles.
"We can't afford any of the equipment to go down," he said, adding that the future of the program is uncertain because of lack of state funding and higher prices. "I for one don't want to see the recycling program end."
O'Gurek also voiced his concerns of the program's future.
"Even if we do get the grant, we already are running the program in the red," he said. "This begs the question should we (be in the recycling business)? The application says it serves a population of 25,000 so that's about of the county. Should we run a program that costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit of the population?"