Minnesota’s 87 counties are the beneficiaries of about $30 million in state payments that help support public lands.
State lands are not subject to local property taxes. As an alternative, a local government aid program called Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) provides funds to counties for state-owned, natural resource lands. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which calculates the payments based on a legislatively set formula, recently sent notification to counties about this year’s PILT payments.
Many of the public parks, trails, and forests that support Minnesota’s culture of outdoor recreation are owned by the state, and managed by the DNR.
“PILT payments compensate counties and local governments for their role in helping protect vital natural resources for all Minnesotans, by helping replace property tax revenue these jurisdictions might otherwise receive,” said Joe Henderson, director of DNR’s Lands and Minerals Division. “This helps ensure that all people can enjoy the economic and recreational benefits of Minnesota’s landscape for years to come.”
Under state law, PILT payments provide funding to counties, townships, and school districts. Counties receive the payments and are responsible for distributing them to townships and local school districts.
The DNR website provides answers to frequently asked questions about each state-owned land type and the specific PILT payment rate, determined by state statute.
The modern PILT program in Minnesota began in 1979. The Minnesota Department of Revenue annually distributes the payments to counties. The amount, type, and location of state-owned land within each county’s boundaries determine PILT payments and how the funds are used.