Funds For Northern Michigan Schools, Counties At Stake In Congress

Jan 16, 2014

Several northern Michigan counties could see revenue cuts, if Congress stops funding for “Payments In Lieu of Taxes,” or PILT. The change would affect Leelanau and Lake counties, as well as Benzie, Manistee, Mason and other areas with significant national park and forestlands.

State forest and national lakeshore lands define much of the northern Michigan region. But local governments cannot charge property tax on these lands, owned by the federal government.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The payments have gone on for decades, offsetting losses to local governments and schools which are not able to collect property tax on government land.

Congressman Dan Benishek says the money helps pay for things like fire and mental health services.
“Manistee County got $91,000 dollars in those kind of payments,” Benishek says. “Well, that’s a big chunk of a county budget if they don’t get it. So we’re really working on making sure that these payments continue.

“I think we’ll probably be able to fix this, probably through the Farm Bill which is going to hopefully be done before the end of the month.”

Millions of dollars are distributed to the 1st Congressional District every year through PILT. The next scheduled payment is in June.