In 1993, the General Assembly, by a combined vote total of 244 to 3, established the Pennsylvania Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund (Key 93 or Keystone Fund) with a dedicated funding source of 15 percent of the state’s Realty Transfer Tax. The realty transfer tax is collected at a rate of 2 percent on the value of real estate when a property changes ownership (with some exceptions.) The buyer and seller each pay half of the tax with the state government ultimately receiving half of the total tax revenue. Following the General Assembly vote, 67 percent of Pennsylvania citizens voted to supplement the Keystone’s permanent funding stream with a one-time infusion of $50 million in bond revenues.
On July 2, 2018, the Keystone Fund will be celebrating 25 years of success.
Twenty-five years of funding has provided Penn’s Woods with more than 2,400 community park developmental projects, 117,000 acres of preserved open space and has leveraged $3.13 in direct local investments in our parks, trails and open space for each dollar of Keystone Funding.
The Trust for Public Land conducted an economic analysis of the return on Pennsylvania’s investment in land and water conservation through the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $7 in natural goods and services to the Pennsylvania economy.
Keystone Funding provides to the residents of Pennsylvania:
1. Recreation (including state parks, trails, scenic rivers, historic and museum facilities, libraries and PA State Universities)
Pennsylvania outdoor recreation generates $21.5 billion in spending, $1.6 billion in tax revenue, 219,000 jobs, and $7.2 billion in wages and salaries. Visitors to state parks spend $859 million annually at local businesses contributing to a total economic impact of $1.15 billion and 12,630 jobs in a variety of industries and businesses in the state.
2. Open Space
Protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania provides a value of $10.9 million in water quality enhancement services and $318 million in air pollution removal services annually and adds $16.3 billion to the value of homes and generates $240 million in additional annual property and transfer tax revenues. Studies of 15 Pennsylvania communities found that open space and working farms and forest require only $0.18 in services for every $1 generated in tax revenue while residential land requires $1.26 for every $1 generated.
3. Quality of Life
Quality of life is one of the most important factors skilled workers consider when choosing where to live and work. Conserved lands contribute to a high quality of life by providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, improving air and water quality, and maintaining the character of communities.
The Keystone Fund has leveraged $205 million in matching funds from private sources and $116 from local sources for conservation. That is, every $1 of Keystone funding was matched by $2.16 in additional contributions!
Many of your future projects could rely on this funding! Educating legislators about the Keystone Fund is very important as most legislators have changed since 1993. We need to continue to enhance legislative support. Take a minute to communicate the importance of maintaining this dedicated funding source for the future of Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation. Pick up the phone, stop by their office, drop them an email or personal letter….YOU decide which avenue of communication with your local officials would be the most effective in your corner of the “Woods.” Take a minute to reach out to them before July 2nd.
For additional fact sheets, reports and surveys, talking points, sample letters to legislators and other resources visit: https://keystonefund.org/25th-anniversary-toolkit/