Thursday, October 13, 2016

Federal PILT could be on the chopping block

It’s the same battle every congressional budget cycle: States and counties depend on lawmakers to come up with a long-term answer to fund the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes program, while Congress stalls on legislation that at best offers only short-term solutions. Although Congress passed stop-gap funding late last month to keep government agencies and programs running through Dec. 9, PILT may once again be on the legislative chopping block as lawmakers consider ways to shrink federal spending. This uncertainty has Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson worried. In June, Arizona received slightly more than $35 million with Mohave, Gila and Yuma counties at the top of the pack, each receiving $3.5 million, and Santa Cruz and Greenlee counties at the bottom with $900,000 each. The Arizona funding was part of nearly $452 million paid to 1,900 local governments by the Interior Department under the PILT program, which has been compensating counties and local governments since 1977 for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions. PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments — mostly rural counties — that contain non-taxable federal lands and provide vital services, such as public safety, housing, social services and transportation. The Interior Department collects more than $11 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. Since PILT payments began in 1977, DOI has distributed more than $7.5 billion to states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands...more

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