2015-07-11 / Potter County News

Grange joins call for higher PILT

Another statewide organization is poised to support the mission of the Pennsylvania State Land Tax Fairness Coalition.

A resolution approved earlier this year by Potter County Pomona Grange will be going before the Pennsylvania State Grange for adoption later this year during the state convention in Warren.

It calls for the state to increase its current $1.20 per acre payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) for tax-exempt state forest, game and park lands to $2.00 per acre, made to counties, townships and school districts where the land is located.

Coalition steering committee members Paul Heimel (Potter) and Phil Jones (Cameron) said the Grange’s support is welcome. The coalition’s mission has already garnered support from the Pa. State Assn. of Township Supervisors, County Commissioners Assn. of Pa., Pa. School Boards Assn., and other organizations.

Pennsylvania State Land Tax Fairness Coalition received a significant shot in the arm two weeks ago when Senator Joseph Scarnati issued an editorial/ commentary to the media, urging his colleagues to support our mission.

“Senator Scarnati is one of the most influential lawmakers in Harrisburg,” the coalition reported on its website. “For him to elevate our issue to that level of prominence as the legislature and Governor Wolf negotiate all of the complexities connected to the 2015-16 state budget is very encouraging.”

Another new development was the announcement of additional state land acquisitions in McKean, Centre, Clinton and Luzerne counties. These have the effect of removing another 22,000 acres from the real estate tax bases in affected counties, school districts and municipalities.

“The timing of this latest gutting of local tax bases serves to bolster our case for a fairer PILT formula,” the coalition reported. “We have emerged from face-toface meetings with House and Senate members with some cautious optimism that they will address the PILT issue as part of the closed-door negotiations taking place in this news blackout period.”

More information on the coalition’s mission is available through the website, pastatelandtaxfairness.com.

Heimel and Jones are asking citizens to contact members of the legislature in support of House Bill 1224, would double the annual payments to counties, school districts and municipalities.

Following are those counties with the highest acreage of state forest land (game and park acreage not included): Clinton 294,489; Potter 268,176; Lycoming 202,466; Centre 158,873; Tioga 156,625; Cameron 136,004; Clearfield 109,761; Elk 80,114; Pike 73,961; Huntingdon 71,148.

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