By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – The size and timelines of state payments to local governments is under fire as many counties, advocacy organizations and legislators are calling for more accountability in Lansing. At issue are state payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments, including school districts, instead of property taxes on land administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Late and reduced payments are harming local governments and communities that feel the state already holds an advantage through the PILT system, critics say. According to Ben Bodkin, director of legislative affairs for the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), PILT payments are much less than what the counties would have received if the state-owned property were on the tax rolls. Underfunding has prevented the state from making PILT payments in full since 2008, leaving local governments to compensate, he said.