The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a support position on Senate Bill 1188 which would again require the State to make Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments to counties. Authored by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), SB 1188 has 15 other authors and co-authors, and is a bipartisan effort to amend Fish and Game Code language to make State PILT payments to counties a requirement.
“Through this fiscal year, Humboldt County is owed more than a half-million dollars. While that may not seem like a lot to the state, these are discretionary funds and they mean a lot to us,” said Rex Bohn, First District Supervisor. “Most of our discretionary funds support law enforcement and prosecution, and without these funds it’s even more difficult to provide the services we need.”
Established in 1949 to offset adverse impacts to county property tax revenues that result when the State acquires private property for wildlife management areas, State PILT helps small and rural counties fund a variety of programs and services that benefit county residents. In 2015, the final State Budget Package included language in the Fish and Game Code that changed “shall” to “may” to make future State PILT payments to California’s 36 PILT counties permissive.
This language change is significant as the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) already owes nearly $8 million in State PILT arrearages to California’s State PILT counties. Despite the previous requirement in statute that the DFW make State PILT payments annually to the impacted counties, they have failed to do so until last year.
“State PILT is crucial to California’s counties, and over the last 15 years counties have struggled to tighten their budgets in order to fund programs and services for residents when the State stopped making payments,” said John Viegas, RCRC Chair and Glenn County Supervisor. “This language change only makes it easier for the State to forego their obligation, further impacting programs and services to residents throughout the state.”
You can read a detailed Q&A on California State PILT on the RCRC website. You can also read the full text of SB 1188.