365体育投注The Hubbard County Board approved a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) request to acquire 40 acres of private land in Section 36 of Steamboat River Township.
However, county commissioners may not be so agreeable in the future.
365体育投注Mike Lichter, Park Rapids area forest supervisor, explained that a private landowner wished to sell the acreage to the DNR. “It’s essentially surrounded by state forest land in Hubbard County and federal land in Cass County. It has no legal access,” he said. “It’s a pretty good setting for us to acquire, and a rare opportunity.”
365体育投注The Steamboat River Township Board provided “a neutral opinion” on the acquisition, Lichter said.
County commissioner Ted Van Kempen asked about Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
“In Hubbard County, PILT is typically a little higher than the tax rate, and apportionment is just a little bit lower. I think it’s $13 lower for the township per year. Those are based on the taxable market value being the sale value,” Lichter said, adding the Steamboat River land will be appraised by a third party and the state will pay that value.
Van Kempen pointed out that Fern Township is receiving “considerably less” from PILT than property taxes now that the DNR owns the LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area.
Matt Boyer, DNR forestry lands specialist for the northwest region, said LaSalle Lake is a different land type.
Lichter said, “The big factor there is that you, as a county, receive the whole PILT payment in one lump sum and reapportion it to townships based on how many acres they have of state land.”
Fern Township had “probably some of the highest-value lands” of Hubbard County, he continued. “The county gets a good PILT payment, reflective of its high value, but it gets dumped into a pot and reapportioned,” resulting in Fern Township getting an average-per-acre PILT from Hubbard County.
365体育投注“Does the state or the DNR itself sell much property?” asked Van Kempen.
“We haven’t in Hubbard County lately. The revenue we’re going to use to acquire is from the sale of DNR lands,” Lichter said.
Even if Hubbard County adopted a “no-net-loss policy,” like Cass County, Van Kempen said he was unsure it would affect sales between private individuals and the DNR.
If PILT doesn’t offset property taxes, the taxpayers of the county, townships and school districts “end up having to pick up the slack,” Van Kempen said. “Taxes and death are guaranteed. PILT is not.”
Boyer said, in Hubbard County, the lump sum PILT from the state “is very competitive, as in equal or it might favor you a little bit more.” He emphasized that, while the township may lose out on property taxes, the county still receives an equal amount in PILT.
Lichter explained PILT distributions are set by Minnesota Statute. By law, 40 percent of a PILT payment goes to the county’s general revenue fund specifically for property tax levy reduction. Townships receive 10 percent, which can be more or less than what the township had been receiving from taxes. The remaining 50 percent of PILT goes to the county’s general revenue fund, but there are no other restrictions.
365体育投注“So the county could pay the township a higher value that’s over 10 percent?” asked board chair Char Christenson.
365体育投注“Absolutely,” Lichter said, adding White Oak Township made such a request of the county last fall when the DNR purchased Potlatch parcels.
County commissioner Tom Krueger commented, “One thing we have to be mindful of is the demand for PILT dollars. It’s going to be really increasing.” As an example, he pointed out the Leech Lake River One Watershed, One Plan proposes $30 million in land acquisition over the next decade.
County commissioner David De La Hunt said he shares Van Kempen’s concerns. “While it’s important to have public lands, what’s the proper balance? If you take the absurd approach everything is public, who is paying the bill?”
If the board was opposed, Christenson asked if the DNR would go ahead with the sale.
365体育投注“No, if you said no, we would not,” Lichter replied, even though, by statute, the DNR would have that latitude. “We’re not going to proceed without your consensus.”
365体育投注Krueger said, in the case of the Steamboat River parcel, it makes sense to sell to the DNR.
365体育投注With no legal access, Lichter said no lender will approve a land loan and that impacts the land’s value.
The board unanimously approved the sale.