Stauber Secures Reappraisal of Thye-Blatnik Payments

December 20, 2019
Press Release

HERMANTOWN, MN – Today, Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) announced that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will reappraise the value of federal lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which determines how much Thye-Blatnik funding that St. Louis, Cook, and Lake Counties receive annually.

Stauber worked to secure this reappraisal after a 2018 appraisal reduced the value of these lands by 39 percent over the previous market estimate, which was completed in 2008, thereby drastically reducing the funds allocated to the three counties. While the new appraisal process is taking place, the USFS will continue to make payments to the impacted counties based on the 2008 appraisal.

Of the reappraisal, Congressman Stauber stated, “For years, these funds have helped provide essential services like law enforcement, search and rescue, road maintenance, and construction of public schools in these rural counties. Such a dramatic decrease in funds could be devastating for many residents and tourists in these areas, which is why I made it a priority to help secure this reappraisal.”

St. Louis County Board Chair, Patrick Boyle stated, "We applaud the Department of Agriculture for their decision and thank Representative Pete Stauber and Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar for their leadership and efforts on behalf of the citizens of St. Louis County. This decision allows for a more thoughtful approach and time to revisit an appraisal process that is so critical to future federal funding for our region."

Lake County Commissioner, Rich Sve stated, “Lake County is pleased to hear that the Secretary of Agriculture has rejected the 2018 appraisal of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the counties will be kept whole with our PILT payments during the new appraisal process. The Thye-Blatnik payments are a vital source of revenue for Lake County.”

Commissioner Sve concluded, “Our Congressman Pete Stauber, and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, were instrumental in communicating our concerns to the USDA. Without their persistence, our payments would have been reduced by 53%. I would like to also thank the Lake County staff, especially the County Assessor’s Office, for their diligent work on this issue outlining what we believe were omissions in the initial appraisal.”

Cook County Commissioners Ginny Storlie, Myron Bursheim, Bobby Deschampe, David Mills and Heidi Doo-Kirk stated, “The Cook County Board of Commissioners is thankful to Congressman Pete Stauber, and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for their work to secure this reappraisal as these funds support critical services in Cook County.”

Background

Every year, the USFS allocates payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) funds to St. Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties based on a formula established by the 1948 Thye-Blatnik Act.

PILT funding compensates local governments for losses in tax revenues due to the presence of large areas of un-taxable federal lands, ensuring funding for vital services.

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