Got PILT? The Feds May Owe You Money

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program was created in 1976 to compensate counties and other local governments for losses in tax revenues due to the presence of substantial federal land acreage within their jurisdictions. Because local governments are unable to tax the property values or products derived from federal lands, PILT payments are necessary to support essential local government services. Maryland received $111,289 in PILT payments in 2017.

FY 2017 PILT Payments (Courtesy of United States Department of the Interior)

In 2008, Congress significantly amended the PILT statute by mandating full funding through 2014 and removing language that limited the federal government’s payment obligation to the amounts appropriated by Congress. Congress has never reinserted that language. For 2015-17, because of insufficient appropriations, PILT recipients did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled under the PILT statute based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s full payment calculation.

Kane County, Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking to recover its own underpayments and the underpayments of a class made up of all other PILT recipients in those years. Several months ago, the Court ruled in Kane County’s favor and certified the lawsuit as a class action. The Court also named Smith Currie & Hancock, LLP, Kane County’s lawyers, as Class Counsel to represent all members of the class. The Court ordered that an official Notice of these events be sent to each underpaid PILT recipient. That Notice will be mailed on June 19 to all PILT recipients.

The Notice explains that to participate in the class action lawsuit, and collect the amounts due to them through the class action lawsuit, each underpaid PILT recipient must complete and submit a form “opting into” the lawsuit. If you do not submit the form, you will not be included in the class action lawsuit—and will not receive what would otherwise be your share of any monies recovered.

Additionally, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is scheduling a conference call with the Class Counsel on June 19 at 3 pm. All PILT recipients and state associations of counties are invited to join that call, where Alan Saltman from Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP will be available to answer any questions.

PILT Lawsuit Conference Call

Jonathan Shuffield, NACo; and Alan Saltman, Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP (Class Counsel)
Call Date: Tuesday, June 19; 3 pm
Dial-In: (719) 457-0816
Passcode: 782427

Contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo for more information.

Gain Tools to Help Protect Elections from Cyber Threats from this Webinar

The National Association of Counties offers a webinar on cybersecurity and elections.

Details:

Protecting Elections from Cybersecurity Threats: Resources to Help Counties

Jun. 21, 2018
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
From NACo:

Based on recent published reports Counties have become increasingly concerned with the potential for threats and possible vulnerabilities in the coming election season. Cyber threats and I.T. systems manipulation is a growing concern – not only for county election officials but the public trust as well.

Counties are looking for assurances and resources to help insure smooth elections in 2018 and beyond.

There is hope, and more importantly, there is help!

Presented by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Public Technology Institute (PTI) along with the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), this webinar will present an overview of the types of threats that local elections officials might expect, while providing resources – tips for incident response and remediation, tools for monitoring vulnerabilities and threats, leading practices for elections systems security – to help local officials make their elections systems more secure.

Lower Crime, Fewer Foreclosures, Faster Permitting…Data Tracking Contributes to County Performance

Prince George’s County’s transforming neighborhoods initiative has contributed to positive results through a CountyStat program focused on gathering and analyzing information from 3-1-1 calls and other sources.

The National Association of Counties article, Building Trust: Performance Metrics in Counties, profiles performance management programs in county governments in Maryland, North Carolina, and Illinois.

NACo writes:

Counties across the country are in a continuous process of performance improvement. From running local health departments to overseeing elections, counties deliver a variety of services and represent an industry of half a trillion dollars in annual operations. Performance metrics have become especially important for counties in face of rising state and federal mandates, decreasing funding shared by states with counties and multiplying state limitations on counties’ ability to raise revenue.

The presentation by Prince George’s CountyStat Director Ben Birge shared several ways that his county program has been able to deliver results, including public safety and customer service outcomes.

Screenshot 2018-06-12 10.17.17
Prince George’s CountyStat program offers service improvements based on data analysis.

MACo’s Summer Conference will include an Open Government and Data Work Group Roundtable, led by Mike Morello of the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement, and Ben Birge of Prince George’s County Stat.

The conversation at MACo will include insight into how counties can improve outcomes and increase efficiency with existing resources and select the best targets for results from county performance tracking.

Screenshot 2018-06-12 19.57.09
The National Association of Counties survey found that data collection and metric identification to be top hurdles to county government performance improvement programs.

The National Association of Counties found that the biggest hurdles to data analysis for county governments were data gathering and identifying metrics. At MACo, the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement will offer Round Table will bring forward for conversation:

  • Free data available from the State of Maryland, and
  • Metrics that make the biggest difference to your county’s bottom line

The Round Table will be held on Wednesday, August 15, from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm at the Roland E Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. To attend the Open Government Work Group Round Table, register for the MACo Summer Conference. Daily registration options are available.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

NACo Panel Discussion: Filling in Infrastructure Gaps is Critical

naco logoA National Association of Counties (NACo) County News article  (2018-05-08) recounted a panel discussion on “Building Inclusive Infrastructure” that was hosted by NACo on May 15 as part of Infrastructure Week 2018. The discussion highlighted the local, state, and national challenge of providing and funding core infrastructure services.  From the article:

“How do you think about infrastructure every morning when you wake up?” [Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program Adie] Tomer asked. “You want to make sure there’s clean running water in the bathroom, you want to make sure when you flip the light switch that there’s power on, that the gadgets you have plugged in are fully juiced up because when they’re not it causes real problems all day, right? You also want to make sure you have gas and electricity in the kitchen so you can prepare breakfast. And you definitely want to make sure the broadband into our homes and wi-fi into our routers is running very smoothly. Here’s the real capper … we also want to make sure there’s transportation infrastructure to get us where we need to go.”

These are reasonable expectations, he noted. But there’s a gap in the United States, he said, when you think about entire rural towns where children can’t do homework because they don’t have a broadband connection, communities in Michigan that don’t have clean water or when people have to drive two hours to get to work.

Filling the gaps takes funding and community engagement — two pieces of the puzzle that need to be addressed when considering infrastructure projects, said Ramsey County, Minn. Commissioner Jim McDonough, who was joined on the panel by Ellory Monks, co-founder, the Atlas Marketplace, and Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director, Center for City Solutions, National League of Cities.

Useful Links

NACo Transportation & Infrastructure Web Page

 

Preparing for the 2020 Census and the Senior Boom

Do you know what awaits your county in 2020 and beyond? The U.S. Census Bureau is working to help you find out. The bureau is charged with gathering and analyzing data about the nation’s people and economy to help provide the information you need to help target and deliver services to your residents. Maryland is preparing for an estimated 40% boom in its senior population over the next few years and data from the U.S. Census Bureau can help you prepare.

Don’t get caught flat-footed on shifts in your county’s demographics! Learn more at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session, “Turn the Tide with Demographics: 2020 Census and the Senior Boom.

Title: Turn the Tide with Demographics: 2020 Census and the Senior Boom

Description: The population of “Boomers” is booming. Between 2015 and 2030, it is estimated that Maryland’s senior population will increase by 40% from 1.2 million to 1.7 million individuals. What’s a state to do? Prepare! The 2020 U.S. Census will play a key role in counting the population and collecting the information that shapes the state’s demographics.  Census information is vital for local governments as they strategically plan to meet the needs of their diverse communities, address shifting demographics, and provide essential support and services to targeted populations such as seniors and their caregivers. In this session, learn about how key stakeholders are working to take stock of Maryland’s population and plan to address their needs in the future and beyond.

Speakers:

  • Pattie Tingle, Executive Director, MAC, Inc.
  • Nesreen Khashan, Data Dissemination Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

Date/Time: Thursday, August 16, 2018; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Ellicott City: Howard’s to Handle

After suffering its second episode of inundating, historic, “1,000-year” flooding within two years on Sunday, Howard County officials are bracing, once again, for more storms on Friday, reports the Baltimore Sun.

In Ellicott City, Howard County officials have removed 100 truckloads of debris from Main Street in recent days, hoping to clear a path for any downpours in coming days. ….

Storms with heavy rain could hit Maryland on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, causing more flooding on ground that is already heavily saturated. A flash flood watch is in effect Thursday afternoon and evening, with chances for downpours of as much as 2 inches to 4 inches of rain.

According to the Ellicott City Partnership’s website:

Founded in 1772, Old Ellicott City is a unique town full of surprises.

While that may be true, it deserves noting that Ellicott City is not, actually, an incorporated municipality. In fact, Howard does not have any incorporated municipalities at all. For this reason, Howard County bears all local government responsibility for disaster recovery and repair to the “town” – just like it did two years ago, and just like it does every day. From NACo’s coverage:

The county assisted about 300 residents May 27 and about 30 of those were water rescues, County Fire Chief John Butler said. The county’s 911 center fielded more than 1,100 phone calls during a six-hour window. …

[County Executive Allan] Kittleman’s news conferences were aired live on the county’s Facebook page and archived there; the press conference May 28 saw 12,000 views and received nearly 300 comments. The county is also getting the word out via its Twitter channel.

The county also set up a special page on its website with continuous updates with information on how to volunteer, a hotline phone number and where people could find cars swept away by the flood currents. Information was also available on storm debris removal, counseling for residents and a disaster assistance center that was opened. …

For those wanting to make donations, the county is sending people to the Community Foundation of Howard County website.

Video Posted by Howard County Government’s Official Youtube Channel.

At this year’s annual MACo Summer Conference, attend Batten Down the Hatches! Weathering a Water Crisis to learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with industry professionals to ensure that comprehensive crisis management plans are in place to address floods and other water-related emergencies efficiently.

The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18, 2018 at the Rowland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

Harris: No “Big Fan” Of Offshore Wind

wind-energy-2029621_1280U.S. Representative Andy Harris, who represents Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is seeking legislative action to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to investigate potential consequences of Maryland’s burgeoning offshore wind. The study, which could take up to two years, is intended to allay concerns about adverse effects on marine life, commercial fishing and tourism, according to a report by Delmarva Now.

From that coverage:

Deepwater Wind and U.S. Wind received approval in 2017 to construct two wind turbine projects off Ocean City’s coast.

The projects represent a critical test for the future of offshore wind development in the United States. They are set to become the first, large-scale projects of their kind.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management assessed the environmental impacts of the projects in 2012, and concluded that they would pose “no reasonably foreseeable significant impacts.” Environmental advocacy groups do not support Harris’ measure, reports Delmarva Now.

Water plays a remarkable role in advancing our State’s progress in renewable energy generation. The “big fans” of offshore wind certainly know this well. Learn more about Maryland’s pioneering efforts on offshore wind from Deepwater Wind’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Grybowski, who will present on the panel, “Earth, Wind, Fire, WATER: Powering Your County’s Future,” at MACo’s Summer Conference on Thursday, August 16, 2018, from 2 pm to 3 pm.

The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18, 2018 at the Rowland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. The conference’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

U.S. Senate Committee Passes Water Resource Authorization Bill

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed a version of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) authorization bill, the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (H.R. 8). The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is scheduled to mark up the bill tomorrow.

NACo provides information on the bill. 

From the letter to the House advocating for WRDA, sent by NACo, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, United States Conference of Mayors, and National Conference of State Legislatures:

WRDA is critical in helping to protect, maintain and further develop our water infrastructure systems including, ports, waterways, and clean and safe drinking water. It provides states and local governments with added stability and certainty to meet water infrastructure needs while also supporting the safety, environmental protection and economic development of our communities. Following a seven – year gap in the passage of WRDA, Congress was able to enact both the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 (WIIN) on a bipartisan basis. We strongly urge Congress to stay this course and approve bipartisan WRDA legislation in 2018, and continue to authorize WRDA every two years moving forward.

The Senate version of the bill includes extensions to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which provides low-interest loans to local governments and utilities to repair existing water and wastewater infrastructure. Route Fifty reports:

The version of the bill the Senate committee approved includes language that would effectively extend WIFIA lending terms to another set of waterworks programs known as the drinking water and clean water state revolving funds.

With the revolving funds, EPA awards “capitalization grants” to states. States contribute a 20 percent match, and then use the money to provide low-cost loans and other financing assistance for drinking water and wastewater projects. The funds are one of the primary ways the federal government provides support for local water infrastructure across the U.S.

The extension to WIFIA was originally proposed in the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act.

The National Rural Water Association supports the expansion, which it says will make it easier for rural communities to access the funds. The American Water Works Association, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and the Water Environment Federation oppose the move, however. They argue:

…it would undermine the purpose and ability of WIFIA to effectively leverage limited federal dollars to support major water and wastewater infrastructure investments.

Helpful Links

SC18 Brochure Cover - final
Like water? Join us for MACo’s Summer Conference, “Water, Water Everywhere,” August 15-18, 2018 at the Ocean City Convention Center!

NACo Coverage

NACo’s WRDA letters to the Senate

NACo’s WRDA letter to the House

Route Fifty: Senate Panel Passes Water Bill That Would Rework Lending Program

Route Fifty: Tension Bubbles Up Over Water Infrastructure Bill in Senate

Prior Conduit Street coverage

 

Join the NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call, Infrastructure Week Review

Every Maryland County is a member of the National Association of Counties, and all Maryland County elected officials and staff are invited to join the NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call.

naco 2015

The monthly Northeast Regional Conference Call is an opportunity to discuss and hear updates on federal issues affecting counties in the northeastern United States.

NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call

  • Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018
  • 8:00AM EST
  • Dial-In: 1-719-359-9722
  • Guest Passcode: 299194

 AGENDA

Welcome and Introductions Christian Leinbach, Chairman, Berks County Commissioners (PA) / NACo NE US Representative

Roll Call by State

NACo Staff Update

Arthur Scott –  Ass. Legislative Director/Political Outreach Manager

Jack Peterson – Ass. Legislative Director/Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Affairs

  • FAA Reauthorization
  • Review of Infrastructure Week

Upcoming NACo Webinars

NACo Conferences

 

 

See How Much Federal Infrastructure Funding Your County Received FY 2014-16

NACo’s county explorer shows that 51% of federal funds invested by counties for infrastructure between 2014 and 2016 were passed through states and other entities.

The National Association of Counties has added new data on infrastructure funding to its County Explorer. The County Explorer allows users to review data on federal infrastructure funding for county governments on a county-by-county basis, and compare local data with information for other counties.

In the federal infrastructure dataset (one of many), the County Explorer provides:

  • Total federal funding for infrastructure for your county (in dollars)
  • Percent of direct infrastructure funding for your county
  • Percent of pass through infrastructure funding for your county (federal funding received through the State or another entity)

Here are two samples from the County Explorer:

For more information, and to view statistics for your home county, see NACo’s County Explorer, now accessible through the Maryland Association of Counties website.

Percent Pass Through Infrastructure Funding