MACo Supports State-Owned Land PILOTs

MACo supported SB 263, legislation to establish a Payment in Lieu of Taxes to jurisdictions hosting state-owned lands, to the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 30, 2016.

MACo’s testimony in support of SB 263 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 SB 263 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.

This bill passed the Senate (46-0) on March 10, 2016.

An identical cross-filed bill, HB 1409, was heard on March 8 in the House.

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

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