Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 863, a budget trailer bill providing $10 million to restore funding for the Williamson Act. The bill provides funding for Assembly Bill 2530 by Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) which saved the Williamson Act. The bill was recently signed into law and will go into effect January 1, 2011. The Williamson Act is a partnership between landowners, counties, and the state. Landowners agree not to develop land in return for lower property taxes, while the counties agree to give up a portion of their property tax revenue in return for the advantages of keeping rural land in agricultural production.
"I am pleased the Governor has signed the budget trailer bill that contains $10 million funding for the Williamson Act and the language needed for county assessors to implement my AB 2530, the Williamson Act protection legislation the governor signed a week ago," said Nielsen. "California agricultural lands remain protected and California farmers will continue to be able to farm. This is especially important to future generations."
AB 2530 allows counties to voluntarily implement new contracts that are ten percent shorter in return for a ten percent reduction in the landowner's property tax relief. The adoption of the new shorter contracts require a majority vote of the board of supervisors and only be allowed in years when counties receive replacement of less than one-half of their foregone general fund property tax revenue from the program.