The County Council urged Governor William Donald Schaefer last week to support the state's Agricultural Land Preservation Program by leaving its budget intact.

The council fears Schaefer will cut $17 million set aside for the program to help balance the state budget, which is facing a deficit. The council passed a resolution last week calling on Schaefer to support the program.

Also at stake is the county's share of Maryland's agricultural transfer tax, a 5 percent fee charged whenever agricultural

land is developed, said Michael Paone, the county's agricultural planner. That money goes to the state's Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

The county in the past has been able to retain one-third of that moneyto use for any costs related to agricultural preservation. But if that money is not spent within three years of being given to the county, it must be returned to the state, Paone said.

In Harford, about $100,000 is in danger of reverting to the state because the money hasnot been used in three years, Paone added.

Some of the county's share of the agricultural transfer tax was to support a program in which the county matches money to state offers to purchase development rights on farm land, Paone said.

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