On February 21, the Partners for Open Space released a report stressing the importance and need for Program Open Space (POS) funding. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Martin O’Malley included $51 million in bond funding in his FY 2013 budget for local POS (much of this representing a repayment of funds taken by the State in prior fiscal years). However, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has recommended delaying the new funding for FY 2013 (about $4.5 million of the $51 million) and spreading payment of that amount out to local jurisdictions over FY 2014 and 15.
In the next two weeks or so, through its budget deliberations, the General Assembly could take any number of actions on POS. They could reject any cuts to local POS funding, take the DLS recommendation, or make far more significant cuts.
From the report’s accompanying press release:
“This report shows the investment that land conservation funding has made to neighborhoods across Maryland,” explained Kelly Carneal, Partners for Open Space Director. “It also shows the uncompleted projects at both the state and local level, projects needed by our communities but unable to move forward without this dedicated funding.”
“Gov. O’Malley has stood by his pledge to protect this critical fund and use it to protect our farms, forests, and parks. However, the Department of Legislative Services has recommended millions to be diverted to other programs – cuts these programs cannot afford.”
The report highlights the importance land acquisition programs, including POS. The report describes POS “success stories” in each county and Baltimore City and describes the impact that reduced funding could have in each county.