2018-07-12 / Views

Quit the PILT fights

It looks downright silly for county commissioners to continually fight with their township brethren over allocations of a pot of money provided by the federal government.

The funds are called PILT, which stands for “payment in lieu of taxes.” They represent a portion of property taxes that would be paid by private owners had property not been bought by the National Park Service for inclusion in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

A few years back supervisors representing townships with some or most of their property within the Lakeshore convinced a County Board of Commissioners to divvy the funds among township governments that provide emergency services.

The cost of those services has grown immensely as townships moved from all-volunteer fire departments to staffs of full-time paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

The funds come to a little more than $100,000 annually.

In 2013, commissioners came up with a formula that allocated 80 percent to townships, and 10 percent each to the county Road Commission and county government, which fields 9-1-1 calls and dispatches deputies to help park rangers in times of emergencies. in 2014 four votes and much bickering resulted in altering formula to 75 percent for the townships, 15 percent for the county and 10 percent for the Road Commission.

On Tuesday, commissioners voted to retain 50 percent of PILT, hoping to offset higher-than-budgeted expenses to upgrade the county 9-1-1 system.

Yes, the county needs the money. But so do the townships, whose emergency services budgets were strained by the mid-year change.

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