Senator McGuire’s bill to assist rural counties moves forward

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire’s bill that will again require the State to make Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments to counties received unanimous bipartisan support in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee this morning.

PILT payments were established in 1949 to offset adverse impacts to county property tax revenues that result when the State acquires private property within a county for wildlife management areas. Currently, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife owes nearly $8 million in payments to California’s 36 rural counties and a change in 2015 to the Fish and Game Code makes it even easier for the state to continue to forego making these payments. 

“The State needs to step up and follow through on a promise and advance Fish and Wildlife PILT payments to rural Counties,” Senator Mike McGuire said.  “Since 2001, California has been depositing millions of PILT dollars that should have been going to rural counties into the State General Fund and it’s time to give counties their due.”

Holding back these payments to counties on the North Coast has had a detrimental impact on the counties and their bottom line. For example, in PILT payments alone, Del Norte is owed more than $220,000, Humboldt County is owed more than $160,000, Lake County is owed $93,000, Sonoma County is owed $116,000 and Marin County is owed over $150,000.

“This was an agreement made decades ago and the state has reneged on these payments for far too long,” Senator McGuire said. “Let’s continue to level the playing field for our rural counties.”

SB 1188 is a bi-partisan effort to make PILT payments to counties a requirement. It passed unanimously, 15-0, in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. It will now head to Assembly Appropriations.