Crawford County is joining a class action lawsuit that targets the federal government over underpayments to county governments over the period of 2015 to 2017.

The suit, titled “Kane County, Utah v. United States,” deals with the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act (PILT Act), a federal law which reimburses county governments for tax exempt properties.

According to the court documents dealing with the case, obtained online, the Secretary of the Interior underpaid beneficiaries of the PILT Act, the county governments only receiving 99.7 percent of the money they were owed for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Kane County, Utah brought the suit against the U.S. government in June 2017. A United States Court of Federal Claims ruled in the county’s favor in December, later that year.

According to Crawford County Commissioner Chairman Francis Weiderspahn, the class action suit is unlike most of its kind.

“In a lot of class action suits, you’re automatically in it unless you opt out,” Weiderspahn said. “In this one, it’s only if you opt in.”

The Crawford Commissioners voted unanimously to join in to the suit at their meeting Wednesday.

An official notice from the Court of Federal Claims gave the commissioners until Sept. 14 to join in the suit.

Had the county not joined in to the suit, it would have needed to file a separate lawsuit to gain those missing funds.

Weiderspahn said that he was unsure exactly how much Crawford was underpaid, nor how much the county would receive from the suit.

He further said that multiple counties across the country have already joined or are considering joining in the lawsuit. A Google search regarding the suit revealed articles about counties joining from Alaska to Texas.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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