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Beltrami County Board to examine PILT funding

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Beltrami County is expected to receive $2.1 million from the state of Minnesota in compensation for state nontaxable lands.

That money could soon go away, as the state faces a $5.4 billion and growing state budget deficit in the next biennium.

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Beltrami County commissioners at their work session Tuesday will discuss the state program, payment-in-lieu-of property taxes,

The 4 p.m. discussion at the County Administrative Building, 701 Minnesota Ave., will be preceded by a 3 p.m. tour of the 9th Judicial District Public Defenders Office,which has moved to the old courthouse annex.

"PILT is an important funding source for county services in Beltrami County," County Administrator Tony Murphy says in a memo noting that an Association of Minnesota Counties task force has studied the PILT program.

The task force is recommending potential county responses to threatened cuts to PILT.

"It is expected that the County Board will study trends in PILT payments, consider the use of PILT revenues and discuss the strategies to encourage legislators to maintain PILT funding," Murphy wrote.

Forty percent of PILT revenues is reserved for property tax reductions.

A March report from the Office of Legislative Auditor stated that there is an unclear statutory purpose and a lack of data that make it difficult to determine the adequacy of PILT payments made to local governments with state naturesource land within their boundaries.

It recommended that the Legislature review the appropriateness of the current distribution of PILT among various types of local governments.

PILT is mostly concentrated in northern Minnesota where the state owns the most land. It is a payment made to counties for public land it cannot tax and is supposed to cover the services brought to that land, as would property taxes.

Commissioners during their work session will also discuss location options for the Natural Resources Management Department and consideration of a "no net gain" policy barring adding additional land to the public trust.

At their regular 5 p.m. meeting, commissioners will consider filling a vacancy for a field operations part-time deputy and a status change for two part-time deputies, and approval to fill a sign technician position in the Highway Department.

Consent agenda items include county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of agent of record designations for insurances, approval of a reappointment of Michael Haws to the Beltrami County Planning Commission for District 4 and approval of a revised Solid Waste Service Fee Abasement Policy.

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