New bills introduced

PA State Capital

Feb. 4, 2015 – Rep. Martin Causer has reintroduced legislation to ensure rural communities and taxpayers get their fair share of compensation for state-owned lands.

“State-owned lands are tax-exempt lands, and in the counties I represent, that amounts to hundreds of thousands of acres taken off the tax rolls,” said Causer, who chairs the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. “The smaller tax base puts a significant strain on local government and school district budgets, and in the end, the local taxpayer is left footing the bill.”

To bring fairness to the issue, Causer has introduced two measures to boost the level of compensation to local governments from the state. House Bill 344 would increase the state’s payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned forest and game lands from $3.60 per acre to $6.00 per acre. The PILT is divided equally among the municipalities, school districts and counties in which the land is located. It applies to lands under the control of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

Records show Cameron, Potter and McKean counties collectively are home to more than 475,000 acres of state-owned land. In fact, in Cameron County, more than half of the land is owned by the state.

House Bill 343 calls for 20 percent of total revenue collected from the sale of timber, oil and natural gas on most state-owned lands to be deposited into a restricted fund for disbursement to local governments across the Commonwealth, proportionally based on the number of acres of state land in each municipality, school district and county.

This measure is similar to a federal law that provides revenue to local governments from the sale of timber on national forest land. The bills will be referred to a legislative committee for further review. Representative Causer answers questions about his bill here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0rev3GK19g