State Needs to Honor Commitments to Sierra County
Op Ed by Supervisor Lee Adams
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) owes Sierra County $817,996.00 in delinquent Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) monies. PILT was established in California in an attempt to offset the adverse impacts to county property tax revenues resulting when the State acquires property for wildlife management areas. In a county with a $8 million dollar annual general fund budget, this is a stunning amount to left go unpaid for over a decade and are dollars that could be use to better fund senior programs, animal control, and even the more timely replacement of patrol vehicles. There is no shortage of public funding needs in Sierra County.
When the State acquires such property, they are required by law to pay annually to the county in which the property is located an amount equal to the county taxes levied upon the property at the time title was transferred to the State. The State has failed to make a single PILT payment to offset their acquisition in more than a decade, leaving Sierra County programs and services to suffer. And this occurs as the State still funds programs for the acquisition of more such lands statewide, including $7.5 million in public dollars for Independence Lake properties in Sierra and Nevada Counties.
Counties across the State are doing everything they can to reduce expenses, tighten budgets, and find funding for critical programs and services for residents. It is time the State make good on their PILT obligations by paying past due monies and resuming ongoing annual payments. We all have to pay our bills – the State shouldn’t get an exception on the backs of the counties.