Saving rural Pa.

JULY 6, 2015 – State Senator Joe Scarnati (R- Brockway) is urging his colleagues in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to approve a measure to increase the state’s payment-in-lieu-of taxes for state forest, game and park lands. Excerpts from his letter follow:

“The state owns hundreds of thousands of acres in forests, parks, and game lands. All of it is exempt from taxes. Pennsylvania makes payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT). However, those payments are almost never increased.

“Local governments and local school districts have been forced to increase property taxes year after year to cover the soaring costs of education. A high school built today can easily cost $30 million, whereas that same school built 30 years ago might have cost $3 million. Yet the state's PILT revenue hasn't kept pace.

“In 2006 I fought hard to increase the PILT from $1.20 per acre to the current $3.60 per acre.  However, it is clear that this amount should be increased once again. Before we consider new taxes, we need to fix existing revenues -- including the PILT, which negatively impacts hard-working rural Pennsylvanians because government owns much of our land.

“In rural Pennsylvania we deserve to be treated fairly. Increasing the PILT would help to assure that rural Pennsylvanians are not burdened more than those who reside in more populated areas.”