The Maryland General Assembly recently passed two bills that will provide funding to both Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County. One bill deals with tax money from the state, and the other bill established a special fund for state-owned lakes.
As you may know, the state of Maryland owns a large amount of land in Garrett County. In fact, the state owns 20,000 more acres in Garrett County than any other Maryland county. The Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) bill allows for specified annual payments to go to counties based on how much acreage consists of state forests and parks and wildlife management areas. For Garrett County, this could mean almost $1 million in additional funds in fiscal year 2019. These funds will help support the entire county’s budget, everything from standard operating costs to covering gaps in lighter budget areas. This legislation will go into effect July 1 as fiscal year 2018 kicks off.
The State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund was also recently passed. While the fund does not have money in it at the moment, it will be one way for the DNR and other lake organizations to request and obtain money needed for Deep Creek Lake projects. The DNR will work to develop a work plan which will sort and prioritize the projects requesting funding. These funds will cover lake management projects like dredging, water-levels and soil erosion, and controlling invasive species.
Both of these bills will help Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County maintain and thrive in the future. Where the State Lakes Protection & Restoration Fund will only really benefit Deep Creek Lake and its projects, the PILOT bill allows for county-wide funding for any number of things. Garrett County is very different from most other Maryland counties, from the landscape to the population, and the PILOT bill is one of few bills that could give Garrett County more state-funding than other counties.