Fish and Wildlife Owes Counties Millions of Dollars

**RCB** via flickr
Thirty six California counties say the Department of Fish and Wildlife owes them millions of dollars and the department is not denying it. One county has even sent the department a bill.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife long ago bought properties for wildlife projects in three dozen counties.  The department agreed to make yearly payments equal to the amount of property taxes that counties would lose as a result of the sale.

H.D. Palmer is with the California Department of Finance.  He says the state hasn't made a payment since the end of the 2001 fiscal year.

"The rural counties have sent letters to the governor seeking that those payments be re-instated and we are still working on the decisions on the budget that the Governor will submit in January," says Palmer.  "So, we can't say one way or the other what will be in that budget regarding the in-lieu payments."

The state owes the counties more than $17 million.

This week, Yolo County sent the Department of Fish and Wildlife a past-due invoice for about $1.4 million.  The county says property like the one known as "No Man's Land" near the Yolo Causeway are not generating tax revenue because they are owned by the state and are a burden on neighboring landowners who pay more than their fair share for fire protection services.

The state owes Riverside $2.7 million -the most of any county- followed by Napa, Yolo, Butte, Merced, Lassen and San Diego.

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