Counties with federal forest land may get new money options

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By Spiros Gallos
Capital News Service
LANSING — Counties in Michigan that contain federal forest land have a new option of dispersing federal funds distributed through the state Department of Natural Resources.
A bill awaiting approval in the Senate will update the state law to be in sync with a federal law in effect since 2000.
Michigan has been acting under the federal law since 2000 and the bill will simply make Michigan law the same as federal.
The federal measure offeres the option to county treasurers who receive revenue from timber to choose either a new “full payment amount” or the current “25-percent payment” plan.
Under the original 25-percent plan, counties would receive 25 percent of the revenue generated from timber.
With the funds received, county treasurers are required to distribute 75 percent of the funds to benefit schools and 25 percent to projects for roads.
Under the new full payment plan, counties could set aside 15 to 20 percent of the funds for special projects on Federal lands, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis.
Special projects maintain the national forests through forest restoration, watershed improvements and trail maintenance.
The remaining 80 to 85 percent would then be distributed in the same fashion as the 25-percent payment plan.
Manistee County received $92,408 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2001. When the law went into effect in 2000, Manistee elected to stay with the older 25-percent plan.
Manistee County Administrator Thomas Kaminski explained that consistency in the budget was a key factor in the decision.
“We wanted a more stable revenue system for schools,” Kaminski said.
The five counties that receive the most federal funds in Michigan are Gogebic, Ontonagon, Delta, Iron and Houghton counties.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism

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