PILT payment reforms approved by Senate

LANSING—Legislation to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries was approved Tuesday by the Michigan Senate.

Senate Bills 1021 and 1022, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Darwin Booher, aim to address repetitive problems with PILT payments not being paid on time or in full. 

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

“Our local governments and schools count on these funds to maintain critical services and help provide a quality education,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “I sponsored this reform because it is time for the state to meet its obligation for the land it owns. Michigan residents are not allowed to pay only part of their taxes, and neither should the state. This will ensure schools and locals receive payments on time and in full, and will also ensure that the cost of owning property is fully taken into consideration as the state looks at buying more land.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns about 4.6 million acres of land, with the vast majority of that located in the Northern Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula. In addition, the federal government owns approximately 3.1 million acres.

“In total, about 20 percent of Michigan’s land base has been taken off the tax rolls,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Purchasing more and more land affects our communities. Education and local services are negatively impacted when land transfers ownership to the state because the state payments are significantly less than what would be paid by a private owner.

“Simply put, this legislation is about ensuring that our schools and local governments receive timely and fair compensation for property owned by the state.”

Among the changes in SBs 1021-1022 are: Increasing PILT payments for purchased lands by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and current millage rates; increasing payments on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre; forcing the state to make payments by Feb. 14 to locals that have submitted their information as required; and inserting a penalty on the state for not making payments on time, which would be identical to that assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.



Bill discussion to allow wolf hunting season to be heard via videoconference

For Immediate Release
Nov. 2, 2012
Contact: Marty Fittante

Bill discussion to allow wolf hunting season to be heard via videoconference

LANSING, Mich.—The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee will hear testimony on establishing a hunting season for wolves in Michigan.
Senate Bill 1350 was introduced in early October by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.  The measure would designate wolves as a game animal and authorize the Natural Resources Commission to establish a game season. A similar measure, House Bill 5834, has also been introduced by Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine.
“Wolves have made a dramatic recovery in Michigan with a current population around 700 animals, with almost all of that population residing in the Central and Western UP,” said Casperson. “Wolves need to be managed along with other species, and management strategies should include the option of a game season.”  
The hunt can legally be considered because wolves were removed from the endangered species list for the Great Lakes region at the beginning of the year. The move places wolf management under jurisdiction of the state of Michigan. Other states including Wisconsin and Minnesota have already established game seasons for wolves with their hunts occurring this Fall.
“With wolf numbers far-exceeding population goals, I continue to hear of the impacts they are having on people’s lives and businesses,” Casperson said. “Residents across the Upper Peninsula have repeatedly asked for a game season to help control the wolf population, reduce livestock and pet depredation and enhance public safety.

“The Department of Natural Resources now agrees that a game season is needed as part of the approach to manage wolves. As season parameters are developed, I will help ensure that UP residents-who actually live where the wolves are at are included and heard.”

The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee, chaired by Casperson, will convene on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 8:00 a.m. EST in Room 210 of the Farnum Building in Lansing, with simultaneous videoconferencing at Gogebic Community College, Room B21 of the Solin Business Center, E-4946 Jackson Road in Ironwood at 7 a.m. CST.  The meeting also will be streamed live on Senate television and can be viewed at http://senate.michigan.gov/tvschedule/tvlive.htm.