The U.S. Department of Interior may have underpaid Schuyler County for payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county.
In response, the County Legislature’s Legislative Resolution Review Committee moved Wednesday (August 8) to authorize Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman to file papers joining a federal class action lawsuit initiated by Kane County, Utah.
According to Getman, the United States Court of Claims has held that underpayments on federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs in Kane County and other local governments may have occurred during 2015 to 2017. The PILT Act is intended to compensate local governments for tax revenues lost from federal lands in their jurisdictions, and the costs of providing services to those lands, Getman said.
That could include the part of the Finger Lakes National Forest in the Town of Hector, Getman said.
“If court determines the county was underpaid under PILT agreements for lands in the National Forest, the county can recover additional money” Getman said. “There is no cost to participate in the lawsuit and no disadvantage to the county to do so.”
According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, “any money collected would go to the county as direct revenue to offset the cost of services to the forest and lost tax revenue, in order to reduce the local tax burden.”
“Given the fiscal stresses placed on local governments by state and federal mandates, county officials have a duty to make sure that any funds due Schuyler County taxpayers come back to Schuyler County to pay for necessary services,” Getman noted.
County Treasurer Harriett Vickio has reported that the County received payments for the affected years as follows: 2015, $16,526.00; 2016, $17,244.00; 2017, $17,091.00.
Any additional amounts for those years obtained from the lawsuit would be calculated by the court, Getman said.
The measure now goes to the full legislature for a final vote Monday, August 13 at 6:30 pm.