MACo Supports Stabilizing Support for State-Owned Lands

MACo presented testimony today in support of SB 134, a bill to stabilize state funding to counties hosting substantial state-owned property such as State Parks. This is different from the payments that counties currently receive, which is a portion of revenues generated from the State forest and parks. Those funds have historically been “raided” by state budget reconciliation plans (and are targeted for a $2.5 million reduction for FY 2016), and would (under SB 134) be eliminated.

The written testimony states:

MACo believes SB 134 will serve as an incentive to counties to preserve their State forests, parks and wildlife management areas. As State lands or designated wildlife areas, these properties are exempt from the local property tax, which is the counties’ top revenue source. These revenues fund a large portion of county expenditures from which these lands benefit, including law enforcement, emergency management services, stormwater infrastructure, and roadways. Providing services to these areas without revenues for this specific purpose draws funds away from other parts of the county budget.

SB 134 would provide a consistent revenue stream to offset losses in property tax revenues and fund the public services provided in these areas. For this reason, MACo would urge a FAVORABLE report on SB 134.

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the legislative database.