State-Owned Land PILOTs Passing Senate, Crossfile Heard in House

SB 263, legislation to establish a Payment in Lieu of Taxes to jurisdictions hosting state-owned lands, has passed out of its Senate Committee and should head to the House. A cross-filed bill was heard in the House Committee this week.

SB 263 is passing in its intact form – amendments merely added additional sponsors to the bill.

MACo’s testimony in support of HB 1409 details the costs borne by jurisdictions hosting state-owned (and therefore non-taxable) properties. This bill’s Open Space Incentive Program which would provide counties an annual payment of $250,000 for each unit (10,000 acres) of open space attributed to State forests, State parks, and wildlife management areas.

A program has existed to provide some level of payment to counties with State forest and park lands through revenues derived from these areas, including net revenues from concession operations, but these payments have been reduced significantly in recent years to balance the State’s budget. This bill will eliminate the current program all together.

From the MACo testimony,

MACo believes HB 1409 will serve as an appropriate 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.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.