Manweller pushes amendment to address payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) rates for counties

When the House supplemental operating budget came up for a vote on Feb. 25, Rep. Matt Manweller stood in support of an amendment that would have increased payments to Kittitas and other counties owed tax money by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). However, the amendment failed on a party-line vote.
“Kittitas County has more money owed to it than any other county under the state’s PILT program. Because a lot of the land in the county is now in the hands of the state and no longer part of their tax base, Kittitas County is not able to levy taxes to pay for roads, hospitals, schools, or social services,” said Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “The state needs to make sure the counties with a lot of land in the state PILT program are being fairly compensated for the land taken off their tax rolls.”

Payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) are payments to local governments by DFW to help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable or state lands in their boundaries. Kittitas County has more than 173,000 acres in the state PILT program.

The amendment offered by state Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, failed on a party-line 48-49 vote. The amendment would have provided funds to DFW so they, in turn, could put the dollars toward PILT payments to the counties.

“Kittitas County is short hundreds of thousands of dollars because the state is not keeping its word. A promise made should be a promise kept,” said Manweller. “I was hopeful the amendment would restore the funds they are owed.”

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 10.

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