June 14, 2012
LOCAL LEGISLATORS SECURE INCREASED PILOT FOR CASINO TOWNS
The Ledyard and Montville legislative delegations hailed passage of legislation making Ledyard and Montville eligible for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) from the state for tax exempt tribal land.
The legislation, passed as part of the budget implementer bill during Tuesday's special legislative session, provides Ledyard and Montville with a PILOT grant—to be phased in over the next five years—for land that has been taken into trust by the federal government for federally-recognized tribal nations, including the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and The Mohegan Tribe.
The towns' eligibility for PILOT is restricted to the land only, not buildings and improvements. Ledyard currently receives PILOT funds for tribal land that was taken into trust on or after June 1999, but this excludes most of the reservation. Montville currently receives no PILOT for trust land. The law takes effect July 1, 2012 and the towns will see their first increase in their PILOT grants in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Exact PILOT grant projections are difficult to make because properties fall in and out of the program every year and the assessed value of properties are constantly changing. However, based on the current portfolio of eligible properties and their current assessed values, Ledyard's PILOT grant could increase as much as $600,000 per year at the conclusion of the five-year phase-in. Montville's PILOT grant could increase as much as $650,000 per year at the conclusion of the phase-in.
State Representative Tom Reynolds (D-Ledyard) stated that "the benefits of the casinos are shared by 169 towns, yet the costs and responsibilities of hosting them fall disproportionately to our small towns. This legislative victory is just the latest success in our ongoing effort to persuade state leaders to acknowledge the towns' casino impacts with increased state funding."
Although local legislators sought PILOT funds for trust land in the past, Reynolds said "the support of Governor Dannel Malloy was most critical to our success this year."
"These funds will help Montville deal with its budget considering our recent grand list issues," said Representative Kevin Ryan. "We continue to work to have the state recognize the impact of the casinos on our towns."
"This is a welcome development for the Town of Montville, particularly in this very difficult budget year," said Representative Elizabeth Ritter (D-Waterford). "I am pleased my colleagues were able to understand and support it."
"The casinos do a great deal of good for the state, which has received billions in slot revenue from the casinos. However, developments of this magnitude are going to have very real impacts on host communities," stated Senator Andrea Stillman (D-Waterford). "This new source of revenue for the towns is due recognition of the burdens they bear as host communities."
"Our local towns work so hard to absorb the impacts of the casinos, and this comes at a cost to local taxpayers," stated Senator Edith Prague (D-Columbia). "This increased funding will provide much needed relief to our towns and their taxpayers."
Reynolds stressed that this increased PILOT funding is in addition to significant increases that Ledyard, Montville, Norwich, Preston, and North Stonington have been receiving for years from the Pequot-Mohegan Fund Grant, which is the municipal grant funded by a share of the state's slot machine revenue.
For example, Ledyard's annual Pequot-Mohegan Fund Grant has nearly doubled, and the town has received almost $8 million from the fund since 2004. Montville has received over $16 million from the fund since 2004.