SENATE, No. 813

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  BOB SMITH

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Imposes water consumption and diversion user fees to fund open space and farmland preservation projects.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning water supply protection and open space and farmland preservation, amending and supplementing P.L.1999, c.152, and supplementing Title 13 of the Revised Statutes. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Act."

 

     2.  (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares that enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of New Jersey is a paramount policy of the State; that the acquisition and preservation of open space and farmland in New Jersey protects its water resources, protects and enhances the character and beauty of the State, and provides its citizens with greater opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and education; that the lands and resources now dedicated to these purposes will not be adequate to meet the needs of an expanding population in years to come; that the open space and farmland that is available and appropriate for these purposes will gradually disappear as the costs of preserving them correspondingly increase; and that it is necessary and desirable to provide funding for the development of parks and other open space for recreation and conservation purposes.

     The Legislature further finds and declares that agriculture plays an integral role in the prosperity and well-being of the State as well as providing a fresh and abundant supply of food for its citizens; that much of the farmland in the State faces an imminent threat of permanent conversion to non-farm uses; and that the retention and development of an economically viable agricultural industry is of high public priority.

     The Legislature further finds and declares that there is growing public recognition that the protection and preservation of New Jersey's water resources, including the quality and quantity of the State's limited water supply, is essential to the quality of life and the economic health of the citizens of the State; that the quality of life, economic prosperity, and environmental quality in New Jersey are served by the protection and timely preservation of open space and farmland and better management of the lands, resources, and recreational facilities that are already under public ownership or protection; that the acquisition of flood-prone areas is in the best interests of the State to prevent the loss of life and property; and that the preservation of the existing diversity of animal and plant species is essential to sustaining both the environment and the economy of the Garden State, and the conservation of adequate habitat for endangered, threatened, and other rare species is necessary to preserve this biodiversity.

     The Legislature further finds and declares that the citizens of the State have indicated their very strong support for water quality protection, and open space, and  farmland preservation efforts not only in the past approval of State Green Acres bond acts and numerous county and municipal dedicated funding sources for those purposes, but with the approval of an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution that provided for a stable and dedicated source of funding for those purposes for the past decade.

     The Legislature therefore determines that it is in the public interest to establish a new stable source of funding, based on surcharges on water consumption and water diversion, for the State's open space and farmland programs.

 

     3.  (New section) As used in sections 1 through 8 of this act:

     "Acquisition" means the obtaining of a fee simple or lesser interest in land, including but not limited to a development easement, a conservation restriction or easement, or any other restriction or easement permanently restricting development, by purchase, installment purchase agreement, gift, donation, eminent domain by the State or a local government unit, or device.

     "Consumptive use" means any use of water diverted from surface or ground waters other than a nonconsumptive use as defined in this act.

     "Department" means the Department of Environmental Protection.

     "Development" or "develop" means, except as used in the definitions of "acquisition" and "development easement" in this section, any improvement made to a land or water area designed to expand and enhance its utilization for recreation and conservation purposes, and shall include the construction, renovation, or repair of any such improvement, but shall not mean shore protection or beach nourishment or replenishment activities.

     "Development easement" means an interest in land, less than fee simple title thereto, which interest represents the right to develop that land for all nonagricultural purposes and which interest may be transferred under laws authorizing the transfer of development potential.

     "Diversion" or "divert" means the taking or impoundment of water from a river, stream, lake, pond, aquifer, well, other underground source, or other water body, whether or not the water is returned thereto, consumed, made to flow into another stream or basin, or discharged elsewhere.

     "Farmland" means land identified as having prime or unique soils as classified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the United States Department of Agriculture, having soils of Statewide importance according to criteria adopted by the State Soil Conservation Committee, established pursuant to R.S.4:24-3, or having soils of local importance as identified by local soil conservation districts, and which land qualifies for differential property taxation pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964," P.L.1964, c.48 (C.54:4-23.1 et seq.), and any other land on the farm that is necessary to accommodate farm practices as determined by the State Agriculture Development Committee.

     "Farmland preservation" means the permanent preservation of farmland to support agricultural or horticultural production as the first priority use of that land.

     "Fund" means the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account established pursuant to section 4 of this act.

     "Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund" means the fund created pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-20).

     "Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund" means the fund created pursuant to section 19 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-19).

     "Local government unit" means a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the State, or any agency, authority, or other entity thereof; except, with respect to the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, "local government unit" means a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the State, or any agency, authority, or other entity thereof the primary purpose of which is to administer, protect, acquire, develop, or maintain lands for recreation and conservation purposes.

     "Nonconsumptive use" means the use of water diverted from surface or ground waters in such a manner that it is returned to the surface or ground water at or near the point from which it was taken without substantial diminution in quantity or substantial impairment of quality.

     "Person" means any individual, corporation, company, partnership, firm, association, owner or operator of a public water system, political subdivision of the State and any state, or interstate agency or Federal agency.

     "Public community water system" means a public water system which serves at least 15 service connections used by year‑round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year‑round residents.

     "Public water system" means a system for the provision to the public of water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year.  Such term includes:  (1) any collection, treatment, storage and distribution facilities under control of the operator of such system and used primarily in connection with such system; and (2) any collection or pre‑treatment storage facilities not under such control which are used primarily in connection with such system.

     "Recreation and conservation purposes" means the use of lands for beaches, biological or ecological study, boating, camping, fishing, forests, greenways, hunting, natural areas, parks, playgrounds, protecting historic properties, water reserves, watershed protection, wildlife preserves, active sports, or a similar use for either public outdoor recreation or conservation of natural resources, or both.

     "Small water company" means any company, purveyor or entity, other than a governmental agency, that provides water for human consumption and which regularly serves less than 1,000 customer connections, including nonprofit, noncommunity water systems owned or operated by a nonprofit group or organization.

     "Unaccounted‑for water" means water withdrawn by a local government unit or water purveyor from a source and not accounted for as being delivered to customers in measured amounts.

     "Water purveyor" means any investor‑owned water company or small water company that owns or operates a public water system.

 

     4.  (New section) a.  There is established in the General Fund a special account, to be known as the "Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account."  The State Treasurer shall credit to this account the amount from the State revenue annually collected from the fees imposed pursuant to sections 5 and 6 of this act and dedicated pursuant to Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 8 of the State Constitution (pending before the Legislature as Senate Concurrent Resolution No.   of 2010 or Assembly Concurrent Resolution No.    of 2010).

     b.  In each State fiscal year, the amount credited to the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account shall be appropriated only for the purposes set forth in Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 8 of the State Constitution (pending before the Legislature as Senate Concurrent Resolution No.88 of 2008 or Assembly Concurrent Resolution No.    of 2008) and this act.

     c.  In each State fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall transfer for deposit into the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund, 65% of the amount that is available from the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account plus any interest or other income earned on that amount prior to transfer pursuant to this subsection and appropriation pursuant to subsection b. of this section.

     d.  In each State fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall transfer for deposit into the Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund 35% of the amount as are available from the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account plus any interest or other income earned on that amount prior to transfer pursuant to this subsection and appropriation pursuant to subsection b. of this section.

     e.  (1)  Of the amount deposited each State fiscal year into the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund pursuant to subsection c. of this section:  50% thereof shall be allocated for the purposes of paying the cost of acquisition and development of lands by the State for recreation and conservation purposes; 40% thereof shall be allocated for the purposes of providing grants and loans to assist local government units to pay the cost of acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes; and 10% thereof shall be allocated for the purposes of providing grants to assist qualifying tax exempt nonprofit organizations to pay the cost of acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, all as provided pursuant to P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-1 et seq.).

     (2)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection to the contrary, any repayments of the principal and interest on loans issued to local government units for the acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, shall be allocated only for the issuance of additional loans to local government units for the acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes.

 

     5.  (New section)  a.  There is imposed upon the owner or operator of every public community water system a water consumption user fee of $0.40 per thousand gallons of water delivered to a consumer, not including water delivered for resale.

     b.  (1) Every person subject to the water consumption user fee shall, on the effective date of this section, and quarterly thereafter, render a return under oath to the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury, on such forms as may be prescribed by the director, indicating the number of gallons of water delivered to a consumer, and at that time shall pay the full amount due.  The amount due from any person subject to the water consumption user fee shall not exceed $50,000 per annum.  The director may prescribe a consolidated form for reporting the amount due under the water consumption user fee imposed by this section and the tax imposed under section 11 of P.L.1983, c.443 (C.58:12A-21).

     (2) Every person subject to the water consumption user fee shall, within 30 days after the date of enactment of this act, register with the director on forms prescribed by the director.

     c.  If a return required by this section is not filed, or if a return when filed is incorrect or insufficient in the opinion of the director, the amount due shall be determined by the director from such information as may be available.  Notice of the determination shall be given to the person subject to the water consumption user fee.  The determination shall finally and irrevocably fix the amount due, unless the person on whom it is imposed, within 90 days after the giving of the notice of the determination, shall file a protest in writing as provided in R.S.54:49-18 and request a hearing, or unless the director on the director's own motion shall redetermine the same.  After the hearing the director shall give notice of the determination to the person on whom the water consumption user fee is imposed.

     d.  Any person subject to the water consumption user fee who fails to file a return when due or to pay any surcharge when it becomes due, as herein provided, shall be subject to such penalties and interest as provided in the "State Uniform Tax Procedure Law," R.S.54:48‑1 et seq.  If the director determines that the failure to comply with any provision of this section was excusable under the circumstances, the director may remit that part or all of the penalty as shall be appropriate under the circumstances.

     e.  The director shall deposit all revenues collected pursuant to this section in the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account created pursuant to section 4 of this act.

     f.  In addition to the other powers granted to the director in this section, the director is authorized:

     (1) To delegate to any officer or employee of the division those powers and duties as the director deems necessary to carry out efficiently the provisions of this section, and the person to whom the power has been delegated shall possess and may exercise all of these powers and perform all of the duties delegated by the director; and

     (2) To prescribe and distribute all necessary forms for the implementation of this section.

     g.  Any person subject to the water consumption user fee who is subject to the jurisdiction or rate regulation of the Board of Public Utilities as a public utility shall collect the water consumption user fee imposed by this section by imposing an automatic surcharge on any tariff established pursuant to law for water rates and charges.  The Board of Public Utilities shall issue an appropriate order adjusting the tariffs established pursuant to law to reflect these payments.  In issuing any order required by this subsection, the Board of Public Utilities shall be exempt from the provisions of R.S.48:2‑21.

     h.  Any person subject to the water consumption user fee may collect the water consumption user fee imposed by this section by including the amount of user fee due as a separate line item on every customer bill or other statement presented to consumers.  The person subject to the water consumption user fee may use up to 1% of all user fee revenues collected to defray the costs of administration and collection of the water consumption user fee.  The director shall credit the proper amount to the person subject to the water consumption user fee upon receipt of written documentation of the actual costs expended for the collection of the water consumption user fee.

     i.  The water consumption user fee imposed by this section shall be governed in all respects by the provisions of the "State Uniform Tax Procedure Law," R.S.54:48‑1 et seq., except only to the extent that a specific provision of this section may be in conflict therewith.

     j.  The water consumption user fee imposed by this section shall be collected in the same manner as the tax imposed under section 11 of P.L.1983, c.443 (C.58:12A-21).

     k.  The water consumption user fee imposed by this section shall not be imposed on:

     (1) water delivered to a consumer for the purpose of storage for future water supplies;

     (2) water delivered to a consumer for the purpose of transferring water between public water systems;

     (3) water delivered to a consumer for emergency purposes, including fire fighting, flood prevention, response to a discharge of hazardous substances, or for other emergency purposes as may be determined by the department;

     (4) water delivered to a consumer, including water delivered for resale, or a bulk sale of water delivered to a consumer in another public water system; or

     (5) unaccounted-for water of 15% or less.  In the case of unaccounted-for water greater than 15%, the local government unit or water purveyor may petition the department for an increase in the percentage of unaccounted-for water eligible for an exemption pursuant to this subsection.  The allowable increase in the percentage of unaccounted-for water shall be determined by the department based on a finding of fact that the leakage reported to the department is not the result of a critically needed water supply infrastructure project.

     l.  The water consumption user fee imposed by this section shall not be imposed on water delivered to a consumer for purposes of reducing air emissions or water pollutants necessary for compliance with local, State or federal regulations or for water derived from reuse of effluent from a primary wastewater treatment system, which effluent would otherwise have been discharged into the waters of the State.

     (1) Any person claiming a complete or partial exemption from the water consumption user fee pursuant to this subsection shall annually file with the director a written certification indicating the percentage and number of gallons of water delivered to a consumer for which the exemption is claimed.  The director, in consultation with the department, may conduct an audit of the certification.  Any person who files a false certification shall be subject to such penalties and interest as provided in the "State Uniform Tax Procedure Law," R.S.54:48‑1 et seq.

     (2) The director shall authorize a refund to any person claiming a complete or partial exemption from the water consumption user fee who has met the requirements of this subsection.  The refund shall be in the amount of the percentage of the water annually delivered to a consumer for which the exemption is claimed multiplied by the person’s total annual water consumption user fee liability.

 

     6.  (New section)  a.  There is imposed upon every person required to obtain a diversion permit issued by the department pursuant to the provisions of sections 6 and 7 of P.L.1981, c.262 (C.58:1A‑6 and 58:1A-7), including any person who is required to apply for and obtain a water use registration pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the department to administer and enforce the provisions of P.L.1981, c.262 (C.58:1A-1 et seq.) or P.L.1993, c.202 (C.58:1A-7.3 et al.), a water diversion user fee.  The water diversion user fee shall be levied at the rate of $0.40 per thousand gallons of water diverted for a consumptive use.

     b.  (1) Every person subject to the water diversion user fee shall, on the effective date of this section, and quarterly thereafter, render a return under oath to the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury, on such forms as may be prescribed by the director, indicating the number of gallons of water diverted, and at that time shall pay the full amount due.  The amount due from any person subject to the water diversion user fee shall not exceed $50,000 per annum.

     (2) Every person subject to the water diversion user fee shall, within 30 days after the date of enactment of this act, register with the director on forms prescribed by the director.

     c.  (1) If a return required by this section is not filed, or if a return when filed is incorrect or insufficient in the opinion of the director, the amount due shall be determined by the director from such information as may be available.  Notice of the determination shall be given to the person subject to the water diversion user fee.  The determination shall finally and irrevocably fix the amount due, unless the person on whom it is imposed, within 90 days after the giving of the notice of the determination, shall file a protest in writing as provided in R.S.54:49-18 and request a hearing, or unless the director on the director's own motion shall redetermine the same.  After the hearing the director shall give notice of the determination to the person on whom the water diversion user fee is imposed.

     (2)  Any person subject to the water diversion user fee who fails to file a return when due or to pay any fee when it becomes due, as herein provided, shall be subject to such penalties and interest as provided in the "State Uniform Tax Procedure Law," R.S.54:48-1 et seq.  If the director determines that the failure to comply with any provision of this section was excusable under the circumstances, the director may remit that part or all of the penalty as shall be appropriate under the circumstances.

     d.  (1) Any person subject to the water diversion user fee  who is subject to the jurisdiction or rate regulation of the Board of Public Utilities as a public utility shall collect the water diversion user fee imposed by this section by imposing an automatic fee on any tariff established pursuant to law for water rates and charges.  The Board of Public Utilities shall issue an appropriate order adjusting the tariffs established pursuant to law to reflect these payments.  In issuing any order required by this subsection, the Board of Public Utilities shall be exempt from the provisions of R.S.48:2‑21.

     (2) Any person subject to the water diversion user fee may collect the water diversion user fee imposed by this section by including the amount of user fee due as a separate line item on every customer bill or other statement presented to consumers.  The person subject to the water diversion user fee may use up to 1% of all revenues collected to defray the costs of administration and collection of the water diversion user fee.  The director shall credit the proper amount to the person subject to the water diversion user fee upon receipt of written documentation of the actual costs expended for the collection of the water diversion user fee.

     e.  The director shall deposit all user fee revenues collected pursuant to this section in the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account created pursuant to section 4 of this act.

     f.  In addition to the other powers granted to the director in this section, the director is authorized:

     (1) To delegate to any officer or employee of the division those powers and duties as the director deems necessary to carry out efficiently the provisions of this section, and the person to whom the power has been delegated shall possess and may exercise all of these powers and perform all of the duties delegated by the director; and

     (2) To prescribe and distribute all necessary forms for the implementation of this section.

     g.  The water diversion user fee imposed by this section shall be governed in all respects by the provisions of the "State Uniform Tax  Procedure Law," R.S.54:48-1 et seq., except only to the extent that a specific provision of this section may be in conflict therewith.

     h.  The water diversion user fee imposed by this section shall not be imposed on:

     (1) water diverted for agricultural or horticultural purposes under a water usage certification required pursuant to the provisions of section 6 of P.L.1981, c.262 (C.58:1A‑6) or as provided in section 2 of P.L.1981, c.277 (C.58:1A-7.2);

     (2)  water diverted for a nonconsumptive use.  In the case of those permittees or persons with diversion privileges to divert water for both a consumptive use and a nonconsumptive use, the calculation of the amount of water diverted for nonconsumptive use shall be determined by the department based on water use as reported to the department pursuant to P.L.1981, c.262 (C.58:1A-1 et seq.) or P.L.1993, c.202  (C.58:1A-7.3 et al.), or if not reported, based on standard industry water use profiles;

     (3) surface water diverted by permittees or persons required to apply for and obtain a water use registration in such a manner that it is returned to another surface water body;

     (4) water diverted for the remediation of areas with contaminated ground water supplies, or for other remedial actions as provided by law;

     (5) water diverted for emergency purposes, including fire fighting, flood prevention, response to a discharge of hazardous substances, or for other emergency purposes as may be determined by the department;

     (6) diversions of salt water except whenever the department determines that the diversion and resultant usage may affect utilization of fresh water;

     (7) water diverted for a paper manufacturing process utilizing post-consumer waste material in the manufacture of a recycled product which constitutes at least 75% of total annual sales dollar volume of the products manufactured in this State by that manufacturer as determined by the director;

     (8) water subject to the water consumption user fee imposed by section 5 of this act;

     (9) diversions of saline water except whenever the department determines that the diversion and resultant usage may affect utilization of fresh water;

     (10) water diverted for purposes of reducing air emissions or water pollutants necessary for compliance with local, State or federal regulations;

     (11) water diverted for the purpose of transferring water between public water systems; or

     (12) water diverted for resale, or a bulk sale of water diverted to another public water system.

     For the purposes of this subsection, "post‑consumer waste material" means a material or product that would otherwise become solid waste, having completed its intended end use and product life cycle, except that "post-consumer waste material" shall not include secondary waste material or materials and by-products generated from, and commonly used within, an original manufacturing and fabrication process; "recycled product" means any product or commodity which is manufactured or produced in whole or in part from post‑consumer waste material and which meets the recycled content standard of the United States Environmental Protection Agency as published in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Products Containing Recovered Material; "secondary waste material" means waste material generated after the completion of a manufacturing process; "solid waste" means the same as that term is defined in section 3 of P.L.1970, c.39 (C.13:1E-3); and “saline water” means water containing a chloride concentration in excess of 250 mg/L; and “salt water” means water containing a chloride concentration in excess of 10,000 mg/L.

     i.  Any person subject to the water diversion user fee shall be eligible for water conservation credits against the water diversion user fee.  Water conservation credits shall be granted to any permittee or person required to apply for and obtain a water use registration who can demonstrate a net reduction in annual water use over any 10-year period commencing January 1, 2010.  The water conservation credits shall be equal to 50% of the difference between the maximum year withdrawal during this period and the current year, where the reduction can be documented as attributable to water conservation.  The department shall approve the diversion permit or water use registration modification to reflect the water conservation credits granted.

 

     7.  (New section) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, or rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, the moneys credited to the Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account created pursuant to section 4 of P.L.   , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and appropriated to the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund and the Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund shall not be used for payments related to bonds, notes or other obligations.

 

     8.  (New section)  a.  The department shall adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B‑1 et seq.), rules and regulations as are necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

     b.  The Director of the Division of Taxation, in consultation with the department and pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," shall adopt rules and regulations as are necessary to effectuate the provisions of sections 5 and 6 of this act.

 

     9.  Section 3 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    As used in sections 1 through 42 of this act:

     "Acquisition" or "acquire" means the obtaining of a fee simple or lesser interest in land, including but not limited to a development easement, a conservation restriction or easement, or any other restriction or easement permanently restricting development, by purchase, installment purchase agreement, gift, donation, eminent domain by the State or a local government unit, or devise; except that any acquisition of lands by the State for recreation and conservation purposes by eminent domain shall be only as authorized pursuant to section 28 of this act;

     "Bonds" means bonds issued by the trust pursuant to this act;

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Environmental Protection;

     "Committee" means the State Agriculture Development Committee  established pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1983, c.31 (C.4:1C-4);

     "Constitutionally dedicated moneys" means any moneys made available pursuant to Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 7 of the State Constitution or through the issuance of bonds, notes or other obligations by the trust, as prescribed by Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 7 of the State Constitution and this act, [or] any moneys from other sources deposited in the trust funds established pursuant to sections 19, 20, and 21 of this act, and appropriated by law, for any of the purposes set forth in Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 7 of the State Constitution or this act , or any moneys made available pursuant to Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 8 of the State Constitution (pending before the Legislature as Senate Concurrent Resolution No.   of 2010 or Assembly Concurrent Resolution No.    of 2010) and appropriated by law and deposited in the trust funds pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), for the purposes set forth in Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 8 of the State Constitution (pending before the Legislature as Senate Concurrent Resolution No.   of 2010 or Assembly Concurrent Resolution No.    of 2010) ;

     "Convey" or "conveyance" means to sell, donate, exchange, transfer, or lease for a term of 25 years or more;

     "Cost" means the expenses incurred in connection with:  all things deemed necessary or useful and convenient for the acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, the acquisition of development easements or fee simple titles to farmland, or the preservation of historic properties, as the case may be; the execution of any agreements or franchises deemed by the Department of Environmental Protection, State Agriculture Development Committee, or New Jersey Historic Trust, as the case may be, to be necessary or useful and convenient in connection with any project funded in whole or in part using constitutionally dedicated moneys; the procurement or provision of appraisal, archaeological, architectural, conservation, design, engineering, financial, geological, historic research, hydrological, inspection, legal, planning, relocation, surveying, or other professional advice, estimates, reports, services, or studies; the purchase of title insurance; the undertaking of feasibility studies; the establishment of a reserve fund or funds for working capital, operating, maintenance, or replacement expenses and for the payment or security of principal or interest on bonds, as the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury may determine; and reimbursement to any fund of the State of moneys that may have been transferred or advanced therefrom to any fund established by this act, or any moneys that may have been expended therefrom for, or in connection with, this act;

     "Department" means the Department of Environmental Protection;

     "Development" or "develop" means, except as used in the definitions of "acquisition" and "development easement" in this section, any improvement made to a land or water area designed to expand and enhance its utilization for recreation and conservation purposes, and shall include the construction, renovation, or repair of any such improvement, but shall not mean shore protection or beach nourishment or replenishment activities;

     "Development easement" means an interest in land, less than fee simple title thereto, which interest represents the right to develop that land for all nonagricultural purposes and which interest may be transferred under laws authorizing the transfer of development potential;

     "Farmland" means land identified as having prime or unique soils as classified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the United States Department of Agriculture, having soils of Statewide importance according to criteria adopted by the State Soil Conservation Committee, established pursuant to R.S.4:24-3, or having soils of local importance as identified by local soil conservation districts, and which land qualifies for differential property taxation pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964," P.L.1964, c.48 (C.54:4-23.1 et seq.), and any other land on the farm that is necessary to accommodate farm practices as determined by the State Agriculture Development Committee;

     "Farmland preservation," "farmland preservation purposes" or "preservation of farmland" means the permanent preservation of farmland to support agricultural or horticultural production as the first priority use of that land;

     "Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund" means the Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund established pursuant to section 20 of this act;

     "Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund" means the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund established pursuant to section 19 of this act;

     "Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund" means the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund established pursuant to section 21 of this act;

     "Green Acres bond act" means:  P.L.1961, c.46; P.L.1971, c.165; P.L.1974, c.102; P.L.1978, c.118; P.L.1983, c.354; P.L.1987, c.265; P.L.1989, c.183; P.L.1992, c.88; P.L.1995, c.204; and any State general obligation bond act that may be approved after the date of enactment of this act for the purpose of providing funding for the acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes;

     "Historic preservation," "historic preservation purposes," or "preservation of historic properties" means any work relating to the conservation, improvement, interpretation, preservation, protection, rehabilitation, renovation, repair, restoration, or stabilization of any historic property, and shall include any work related to providing access thereto for disabled or handicapped persons;

     "Historic property" means any area, building, facility, object, property, site, or structure approved for inclusion, or which meets the criteria for inclusion, in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places pursuant to P.L.1970, c.268 (C.13:1B-15.128 et seq.);

     "Indoor recreation" means active recreation that otherwise is or may be pursued outdoors but, for reasons of extending the season or avoiding inclement weather, is or may be pursued indoors within a fully or partially enclosed building or other structure, and includes basketball, ice skating, racquet sports, roller skating, swimming, and similar recreational activities and sports as determined by the Department of Environmental Protection;

     "Land" or "lands" means real property, including improvements thereof or thereon, rights-of-way, water, lakes, riparian and other rights, easements, privileges and all other rights or interests of any kind or description in, relating to, or connected with real property;

     "Local government unit" means a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the State, or any agency, authority, or other entity thereof; except, with respect to the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, "local government unit" means a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the State, or any agency, authority, or other entity thereof the primary purpose of which is to administer, protect, acquire, develop, or maintain lands for recreation and conservation purposes;

     "New Jersey Historic Trust" means the entity established pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1967, c.124 (C.13:1B-15.111);

     "Notes" means the notes issued by the trust pursuant to this act;

     "Permitted investments" means any of the following securities;

     (1) Bonds, debentures, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued by any agency or instrumentality of the United States to the extent such obligations are guaranteed by the United States or by another such agency the obligations (including guarantees) of which are guaranteed by the United States;

     (2) Bonds, debentures, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued by any corporation chartered by the United States, including, but not limited to, Governmental National Mortgage Association, Federal Land Banks, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Federal National Mortgage Association, Federal Home Loan Banks, Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, Banks for Cooperatives, Tennessee Valley Authority, United States Postal Service, Farmers Home Administration, Resolution Funding Corporation, Export-Import Bank, Federal Financing Bank and Student Loan Marketing Association;

     (3) Bonds, debentures, notes or commercial paper rated in the highest two rating categories without regard to rating subcategories (derogation) by all nationally recognized investment rating agencies or by a nationally recognized investment rating agency if rated by only one nationally recognized investment rating agency;

     (4) Repurchase agreements or investment agreements issued by (i) a commercial bank or trust company or a national banking association, each having a capital stock and surplus of more than $100,000,000, or (ii) an insurance company with the highest rating provided by a nationally recognized insurance company rating agency, or (iii) a broker/dealer, or (iv) a corporation; provided that the credit of such commercial bank or trust company or national banking association or insurance company or broker/dealer or corporation, as the case may be, is rated (or, in the case of a broker/dealer or corporation, whose obligations thereunder are guaranteed by a commercial bank or trust company or a national banking association or insurance company with the highest rating provided by a nationally recognized insurance company rating agency or corporation whose credit is rated) not lower than the "AA" category without regard to rating subcategories (derogation) of any two nationally recognized investment rating agencies then rating the State; provided that any such agreement shall provide for the investment of funds and shall be collateralized by obligations described in paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 or paragraph 3 above at a level of at least one hundred and two (102) percent in principal amount of those obligations;

     "Pinelands area" means the pinelands area as defined pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1979, c.111 (C.13:18A-3);

     "Pinelands regional growth area" means a regional growth area established pursuant to the pinelands comprehensive management plan adopted pursuant to P.L.1979, c.111 (C.13:18A-1 et seq.);

     "Project" means all things deemed necessary or useful and convenient in connection with the acquisition or development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, the acquisition of development easements or fee simple titles to farmland, or the preservation of historic properties, as the case may be;

     "Qualifying open space referendum county" means any county that has:  (1) approved and implemented, and is collecting and expending the revenue from, an annual levy authorized pursuant to P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1 et seq.) for an amount or at a rate equivalent to at least one half of one cent per $100 of assessed value of real property, or for an amount or at a rate established by the county and in effect as of April 1, 1999, whichever is greater; or (2) adopted an alternative means of funding for the same or similar purposes as an annual levy, which the Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the committee and the New Jersey Historic Trust, approves to be stable and reasonably equivalent in effect to an annual levy;

     "Qualifying open space referendum municipality" means any municipality that has:  (1) approved and implemented, and is collecting and expending the revenue from, an annual levy authorized pursuant to P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1 et seq.) for an amount or at a rate equivalent to at least one half of one cent per $100 of assessed value of real property, or for an amount or at a rate established by the municipality and in effect as of April 1, 1999, whichever is greater; or (2) adopted an alternative means of funding for the same or similar purposes as an annual levy, which the Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the committee and the New Jersey Historic Trust, approves to be stable and reasonably equivalent in effect to an annual levy;

     "Qualifying tax exempt nonprofit organization" means a nonprofit organization that is exempt from federal taxation pursuant to section 501 (c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. s.501 (c)(3), and which qualifies for a grant pursuant to section 27, 39, or 41 of this act;

     "Recreation and conservation purposes" means the use of lands for beaches, biological or ecological study, boating, camping, fishing, forests, greenways, hunting, natural areas, parks, playgrounds, protecting historic properties, water reserves, watershed protection, wildlife preserves, active sports, or a similar use for either public outdoor recreation or conservation of natural resources, or both; and

     "Trust" means the Garden State Preservation Trust established pursuant to section 4 of this act.

(cf:  P.L. 2005, c.281, s.1)

 

     10.  This act shall take effect upon the date of approval of the voters of a constitutional amendment as proposed pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution No.   of 2010 or Assembly Concurrent Resolution No.    of 2010, except that sections 5 and 6 of this act shall take effect on the first day of the third full fiscal quarter following the date on which the remainder of this act takes effect.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish a Water Supply Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund Account in the Department of the Treasury.  Moneys in the fund would be derived from: (1) a water consumption user fee imposed on the owner or operator of every public community water system equal to forty cents per thousand gallons of water delivered to a consumer; and (2) a water diversion user fee imposed on every person required by law to obtain a diversion permit or a water use registration equal to forty cents per thousand gallons of water diverted for a consumptive use.  The amount due from any person subject to one of these fees would not exceed $50,000 per year.  The fees imposed and collected would be constitutionally dedicated for open space and farmland preservation purposes.

     The moneys in the fund would be used to provide funding, including loans or grants, for the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes and for the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production in the manner set forth and pursuant to the provisions of the “Garden State Preservation Trust Act,” P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-1 et seq.).  All available moneys in the fund must be appropriated annually solely for the following purposes:

     (1) 65% of the estimated annual balance of the fund would be annually appropriated to the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund established pursuant to section 19 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-19) for use by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to: (a) pay the cost of acquisition and development of lands by the State for recreation and conservation purposes; (b) provide grants and loans to assist local government units to pay the cost of acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes; and (c) provide grants to assist qualifying tax exempt nonprofit organizations to pay the cost of acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes;

     (2) 35% of the estimated annual balance of the fund would be annually appropriated to the Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund established pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-20) for use by the State Agriculture Development Committee for farmland preservation purposes.

     It is estimated that a surcharge equal to forty cents per thousand gallons of water would raise approximately $150,000,000 in annual revenue.  Since the average residential water usage in New Jersey is 80,000 gallons of water annually, a forty cents per thousand gallons rate would cost the average household $32 per year.