PILOTs: What Are They and Are They Affected by Institutional and/or Economic Constraints? The Case of Wisconsin Municipalities


  • Craig S. Maher University of Nebraska - Omaha
  • Ji Hyung Park James Madison University
  • Bit An University of Nebraska - Omaha




Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs), Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs), Local Government Finance


Following the rise of tax and expenditure limitations in the 1970s, scholars have focused on assessing the effects of these limitations on local government fiscal outcomes. One key takeaway has been local governments’ decreasing reliance on property taxes and increased use of nontax revenue sources, in particular fees and changes. This study builds on this work by focusing on a particular type of fee—that is, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). We find that, in Wisconsin, revenues received by municipalities from two PILOTs programs are affected quite differently. The extent to which the economy, municipal fiscal condition, tax and expenditure limits, and community characteristics affect PILOTs’ revenues depends on the extent to which the municipality can manipulate the payment structure. 

Author Biographies

Craig S. Maher, University of Nebraska - Omaha

Craig S. Maher is a professor in the School of Public Administration and director of the Nebraska State and Local Finance Lab. His research currently focuses on government fiscal conditions and fiscal distress, and the effects of institutional restrictions such as tax and expenditure limitations on fiscal outcomes.      

Ji Hyung Park, James Madison University

Ji Hyung Park is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at James Madison University. His research interests are in public budgeting and finance and urban management, focusing on citizen participation, form of government, fiscal health, performance budgeting, revenue diversification, and city–county consolidation.

Bit An, University of Nebraska - Omaha

Bit An is a doctoral student in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His research interests include public finance and budgeting, community district organization, fiscal institutions, and the fiscal relationship between nonprofits and governments.      






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