NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Tax Increases To Keep Neighborhoods Green

May 31, 2001

Voters in states and municipalities are approving new taxes to purchase open spaces. Last year, California approved $5 billion in acquisition funds. But open-space advocates say approving tax hikes for recreational and environmental purposes is an easier sell at the county and municipal level -- because voters are more willing to pay to keep land green when it is in their own neighborhood.

The movement is swiftly building momentum.

  • In November 2000, voters approved 172 local measures, raising $2.4 billion for land acquisition -- a considerable jump from the $540 million raised in voting two years earlier.
  • Residents of Boise voted last week to hike property taxes for two years and devote the $10 million to purchases of land outside the city.
  • Last month, voters in McHenry County, Ill., and in DeKalb County, in the Atlanta area, passed bond referendums to buy open space.
  • On Saturday, Hays County, Texas, near Austin, will vote on a similar $3.5 million bond issue.

Since March 31, Massachusetts towns have voted to raise property taxes as much as 3 percent to finance open-space acquisitions and other land issues.

Source: Martha J. Moore, "Cities Tax to Keep Land Green," USA Today, May 31, 2001.


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