LANSING — Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and other Northern Michigan officials were on hand Wednesday as Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries. The legislatnion was enacted last month.

Public Acts 603 and 604 of 2012 address repetitive problems with payments in lieu of taxes by: increasing PILT by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and millage rates and raising the payment rates on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre; adding a penalty on the state for not making payments on time – identical to penalties assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes; and requiring PILT to be made by Feb. 14 to locals that submit their information as required.

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

The funding increases will be phased-in during the next two years. Once fully phased-in, the local governments in the 35th Senate District will see a total increase of about $1.4 million.

Mecosta County and its township,s where the state property is located, would see an increase of approximately $17,000.

“Some local units of government in Northern Michigan have had more than half of their land base taken off the tax rolls because the state owns so much land in those areas,” Booher said. “This long-overdue reform ensures that local governments and schools receive these important funds on time, in full and at a fair rate. The new laws increase payment rates for the first time since 1986 – representing inflation during the past 27 years. This will help reduce the negative impact on schools and local governments when private land is bought by the state.”