Rep. Arnold: Boosting revenue for Indiana counties with state and federal land

Posted by: Peter Hoffman  | Monday, February 13, 2017

We are fortunate that some of the country’s best state and national parks are right here in Indiana. Every year, Hoosiers and out-of-state visitors enjoy these public parks and lakes in huge numbers. However, to counties where this beautiful land is located, it has been somewhat of a mixed blessing 

Local governments in certain rural counties are losing out on their tax base because of the large amounts of federal and state land within them. This makes it difficult to expand industry, develop housing subdivisions and encourage growth in the local economy. Currently, six counties in Indiana have at least 15 percent of their land classified as state or federal property. They are Crawford, Orange, Perry, Brown, Monroe and Union counties. These counties act as good stewards and hosts for all Hoosiers but it’s clear a change needs to be made in order to ensure these local governments aren’t falling behind other counties because of it.

I authored legislation this session that would require the state to make payments in lieu of property taxes, or PILOTs, to counties that fall at or above the 15 percent federal or state land ownership threshold. Indiana would pay those counties 50 percent of the statewide agricultural land base rate value. Federal ground would count toward the 15 percent threshold, but the state PILOTs would only be made for state-owned grounds. By channeling this money back to local government, it is my hope that the counties affected by the bill would be able to recoup lost revenue.

Recently, I presented this proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee. If the committee members agree to vote and approve the bill at their next meeting, it will move to the full House for consideration.

These areas of land encompass several thousands of acres that all Hoosiers use as public grounds. It’s appropriate to fairly compensate these counties, three of them being in District 74, who are currently losing out on tax revenue other local governments across the state are able to use.

As we continue our work during the legislative session, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or input at 317-232-9793 or by email at Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at


State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74, which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.