Interior Delivers for Rural Communities

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Washington, June 29, 2020 | Doug Levine (202-225-2315) | comments

Today, members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after the Department of the Interior announced the 2020 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) distributions. These distributions go to over 1,900 local governments around the country to help pay for essential public services. 

“I welcome today’s announcement by the Department of the Interior. While not a perfect system, PILT is an integral part of supporting local governments in Arizona and across the West. I look forward to working with the department and my colleagues in Congress going forward to allow more access to our public lands and reducing the federal estate.  I hope in the near future Congress will make this program both permanent and mandatorily funded protecting our communities from the uncertainty. Ensuring this process is consistent and reducing the federal footprint will empower local and state governments to make their own decisions on managing lands and provide greater certainty in budgeting,” said Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).

"Today’s announcement of 2020 PILT payments is welcome news to communities across Wyoming that rely on these payments to provide vital services like firefighting, police protection, and more. In the midst of this pandemic that has contributed to economic uncertainty, the timely release of these resources is particularly important for local and county governments in our state," said House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY-AL). 

“Colorado’s Third District is fortunate to have abundant public spaces for recreation and shared use, but given that many of these areas are non-taxable, a lack of tax revenue places significant budgetary constraints on rural areas. PILT plays a critical role to help these communities bridge budgetary challenges and I look forward to these funds being used to support essential infrastructure and services that would likely not exist without this money,” said Executive Vice Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03). 

"The federal government has a large footprint on our land in Central Washington, from national forests and federal grasslands to tribal reservations and the Hanford Site. These PILT payments go a long way to help local governments provide much-needed public services due to the reduced local tax base. Thank you, Secretary Bernhardt, for recognizing the needs of rural communities and issuing PILT payments for our counties,” said Vice Chairman for Departments of Interior and Energy Dan Newhouse (WA-04). 

"From oil and gas to timber, Alaska is home to vast natural resources. Unfortunately, the federal government has kept many Alaskan communities from responsibly developing their lands, which prevents them from expanding their economies, supporting their schools, and providing economic opportunities to families," said Congressman Don Young. "The PILT program is critical to offsetting lost revenue in these communities and investing funding in education, infrastructure, and first responders, and more. I am pleased to see the Department of the Interior announce this year's PILT distributions, and will continue working to support this very critical program,” said Vice Chairman for Indian Affairs and Fisheries Don Young (AK-AL). 

“I am grateful to see that Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) will be distributed to counties who deserve these funds. This year, PILT will provide over $39 million for counties in Utah to offset lost property tax revenue due to the tax-exempt federal lands within their borders. These dollars support many critical services that counties provide and are necessary to ensure the sustainability of local governments in states with large landscapes of public lands, such as Utah,” said Vice Chairman for Federal Lands and New Energy Opportunity John Curtis (UT-03).

"The PILT program is an incredible tool allowing local governments to better care for the federal lands within their communities. In 2019, Arkansas counties alone received almost $7.5 million in PILT funds. I’m glad to see DOI continuing this program, and look forward to seeing Arkansas and states across the country benefitting from PILT payments," said Vice Chairman for Infrastructure and Forestry Bruce Westerman (AR-04).

“More than half of the land in Northern California belongs to the federal government. PILT payments are crucial to helping our rural counties continue to provide services such as schools, roads, police, and firefighting. This year, the eleven counties in the First District will receive $10,634,991 in PILT payments to help support the vital services they provide. The first half of 2020 has quickly drained already-strained local budgets, so these payments come at a great time. Thank you to the Department of Interior for their diligent efforts to get these payments out to rural America," said Vice Chairman for Agriculture and Chief Business Officer Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). 

“Rural communities in South Dakota should not fall behind because of large amounts of nontaxable federal property. It’s incredibly important for payments like these to make their way back to the local communities to help fund roads, law enforcement and schools,” said Congressman Dusty Johnson (SD-AL). 

“For years, rural counties in Idaho have experienced strained budgets due to immense federal land ownership in the West. Congress fully funded PILT and I’m glad to see the Department of Interior’s timely disbursement to Idaho’s counties--particularly the most rural areas where typical revenue streams are not an option," said Congressman Russ Fulcher (ID-01)

“Hardworking Montanans pay taxes to fund roads, schools, and public safety. As Montana’s largest landowner, the federal government must keep its commitment to our communities that rely on Payment In Lieu of Taxes. Today’s announcement promises the federal government will honor its obligation and give our communities the certainty they need to plan and make needed investments,” said Congressman Greg Gianforte (MT-AL).

“PILT funding is critical for Oregon’s rural communities to provide essential services, which is why I worked with my colleagues in the House to fully fund this program. The federal government controls the majority of the land in Oregon and as a result, these funds, along with Secure Rural Schools funds and timber receipts, help ensure our rural communities have well-functioning schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure. I applaud President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for prioritizing this critical funding and look forward to continuing to work alongside the Administration to improve the management of our public lands and provide Oregon’s rural communities with the support they need,” said Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02).

“Some rural counties in my district have less than 10% private property to contribute to their tax base. When nearly all of the land base is nontaxable, payments in lieu of taxes on the federally managed land are critical for funding essential county services such as roads and emergency response. Because Congress has chosen to retain so much public land, we have to keep funding PILT for the counties that bear the burdens of federal land,” said Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02). 

"I applaud President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for distributing PILT payments for fiscal year 2020. During these unprecedented times, it is a testament to their prioritization of rural communities. As a member of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee, and former chairman, I have made securing PILT funding my top priority and will continue to advocate for fully funding PILT so they can be fairly compensated for their inability to collect property taxes on federal lands," said Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02). 

“PILT allocations are crucial to the rural economies of northern Minnesota as rural communities like ours lack the luxury of having incomes like urban areas. Because of the large presence of federally-controlled land in my district, our local governments need PILT funding to carry out services like firefighting and police protection. Therefore, I applaud the Interior Department for rightfully  sending more than $4.5 million dollars into counties in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District," said Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08).

“The PILT program is vital to jurisdictions with large areas owned by the Federal Government, including many in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District. These local governments are deprived of tax revenue from federal lands. By replenishing their coffers, PILT allows them to continue providing essential services to their residents," said Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-09). 

“I want to thank Secretary Bernhardt for his continued support of PILT. In districts like mine, where more than 80 percent of the land is government owned, these funds are crucial for our local jurisdictions to provide essential services, such as public safety, road maintenance, and emergency services. I’ve advocated for fully funding PILT since first coming to Congress, and I’m pleased to see this year’s distributions," said Congressman Paul Cook (CA-08). 

"The original agreement for counties to give up land to national forests was basically that those counties would receive a rough equivalent of the tax revenue they would otherwise receive from the lands. This was to make up for the vast lost revenue to local government since they could not tax the land once it became a national forest. Until the Forest Service makes good on its promise to either produce adequate revenue from the federal lands and share it to strengthen counties, or return some of its vast holdings back to the localities these lands should rightly belong to, the PILT program is necessary to mitigate the losses the federal government has caused.  Thankfully, the Department of the Interior has provided funding for several counties in east Texas this year. This funding is for helping local governments carry out vital services, such as funding for public schools, roads, firefighting, police protection, and search-and-rescue operations," said Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01). 

Background Courtesy of the Department of the Interior: 

PILT funds are made available to local governments to help offset their inability to tax federal property. The payments are made annually for tax-exempt federal lands administered by U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) agencies including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and for federal water projects and some military installations.

State breakdown of the 2020 PILT numbers is available HERE.

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