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Monday, March 24, 2014

Causer Seeks to Increase PILT

(News Release) HARRISBURG – Working to ease the financial burden on local governments and taxpayers, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) has introduced legislation to increase the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned forest and game lands.

The PILT is money the Commonwealth pays to local governments on the acreage of land it owns in their jurisdictions. The land is not subject to property taxes as it would be if it was privately owned.

“Our region is already struggling economically, and that struggle is compounded by the volume of state-owned lands here,” Causer said. “The amount the state currently pays in PILT, and even what it would pay under my legislation, is a small fraction of what the land would generate if it was still on the tax rolls.”

House Bill 2112 would increase from $3.60 per acre to $5.40 per acre the payment made by the Commonwealth to municipalities, school districts and counties that host state land under the control of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).

Records show Cameron, Potter and McKean counties collectively are home to more than 475,000 acres of state-owned land. In fact, in Cameron County, more than half of the land is owned by the state.

Based on information from DNCR and PGC, Potter County and its local governments currently receive about $1.03 million from the Commonwealth; Cameron County and its local governments receive $524,212; and McKean County and its local governments receive $148,245.

The PILT is divided equally among the three taxing bodies and was last increased in 2006.

To further support rural communities with significant amounts of state-owned land, Causer continues to pursue a change to state law, through House Bill 444, that would call for 20 percent of total revenue collected from the sale of timber, oil and natural gas on most state-owned lands to be returned to local governments. Like the PILT, the funding would be split evenly among the county, municipality and school district.

Both bills have been referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for its consideration.

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