Bills would add to PILTs from state to county

If a bill put forth by a neighboring representative comes to fruition, six percent of Warren County could be generating additional revenue.

That six percent, approximately 36,669 acres, is the portion of Warren County that is either state game land or part of a state forest.

Those lands are by nature tax-exempt but the state does make payments to the local taxing bodies.

A measure put forth by state House Rep. Martin Causer (R-67) would increase the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) that the state pays to local taxing bodies.

According to Causer, “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, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.”

The way the bill, which was referred to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on March 19, works is the PILT amount would be divided equally among the three taxing bodies, totaling $1.80 per acre to each entity.

A one-third stake in the payments at the old rate amounted to approximately $44,000. The increase would raise the same share to approximately $66,000.

The PILT was last increased in 2006.

“Our region is already struggling economically, and that struggle is compounded by the volume of state-owned lands here,” said Causer of his district which encompasses part of McKean County and all of Potter and Cameron counties. “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.”

The vast majority of lands that this legislation applies to in Warren County are nine state game lands. The rest is 96 acres of the Cornplanter State Forest at the Anders Run Natural Area outside of Irvine.

Causer also proposes 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.

The intent of that provision, he said, is to “further support rural communities with significant amounts of state-owned land.”

State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65) is a co-sponsor on both pieces of legislation.