County may join lawsuit against U.S. government

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County officials say the U.S. Government is in violation of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) law that requires the federal government to make payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within its boundary.

As a result, the Board of Commissioners is considering joining a class-action lawsuit against the federal government.

County Manager, Michael Melton told commissioners during a Monday called meeting he has received an email from the law firm of Smith Currie & Hancock that informs the county of a class-action lawsuit filed against the federal government on behalf of Kane County, Utah. That lawsuit seeks to recover Kane County’s underpayments and the underpayments of a class made up of all other PILT recipients nationwide.

“Our piece of that pie for the payment we get each year has gone down significantly,” Melton said. “We estimate the federal government should have paid us between $25,000 and $26,000. The county received only about $3,000. “I got some paperwork on my desk where we can opt into the class action lawsuit if the Board so chooses.”

Commissioner Edwin Nix said about half the land in White County is state of federally-owned land.

The formula used to compute the amount of payments local governments receive is contained in the PILT Act and is based on population, receipt sharing payments, and the amount of Federal land within an affected county.

Commissioners could vote during the next regular meeting to opt into the lawsuit.

 

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