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County joins lawsuit over alleged federal underpayments

On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to join a class action lawsuit that would aim to reclaim funds that the county believes it should have received from the Payments In-Lieu of Taxes statute.

The lawsuit is based in whether an amendment to PILT should be read as discretionary funding or mandatory funding for federal use of county land. A court decision in Kane County, Utah versus the U.S. government found that the federal government had underpaid counties across the nation for three years.

“It goes back to fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017 to obtain money that the federal government owes without having to file the lawsuit,” County Manager Tod Tentler said.

Since the court decision in Utah, counties across the country have joined in a class-action lawsuit to get their share of the money owed. County Attorney Jerry Willis clarified that the county would not have to pay anything to be part of the class action lawsuit, and joining the class-action suit is the county’s best chance of reclaiming the money. The Troup County Board of Commissioners could also file a separate lawsuit, but a separate lawsuit would cost the county money.

“If you don’t sign up, you are not going to collect,” Willis said.

“How much you collect is unknown.”

Troup County staff recommended that the county take part in the class action lawsuit.

“We think we are being grossly underpaid as far as our property values,” Tentler said.

Willis estimated that 90,000 acres in Troup County are used as federal land.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.