Idaho republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo have joined a bi-partisan coalition in support of legislation reauthorizing the “Payments in Lieu of Taxes” (PILT) program for ten years.
PILT provides resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states in which the federal government owns property for which it does not pay property taxes. Counties have used the payments for more than 40 years to pay for things like law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency response, and other essential county services.
“The federal government does not pay local property taxes, which makes rural counties containing large swaths of federally-owned land face tough financial decisions,” said Crapo. “Our legislation would provide much-needed stability to these counties so they can budget appropriately according to expected revenue and provide these essential services to local citizens and taxpayers. I look forward to continue working in a bipartisan manner to end the financial uncertainty thousands of rural counties face nationwide.”
According to Risch, “The PILT program impacts every single county in Idaho. Without PILT funding, many rural communities throughout our state and much of the West would face economic devastation. Our rural communities need a lasting solution, and we owe it to them to fulfill our obligation and reauthorize PILT.”
“In 61 percent of the nation’s counties, the federal government is a major landowner. Counties provide critical services for residents and visitors in and around untaxable federal public lands, including roads, bridges, search and rescue, law enforcement and solid waste disposal,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The PILT program represents the federal government’s commitment to these and many other services. This bill ensures the long-term certainty we need, instead of being susceptible to the whims of unpredictable federal funding and shifting the burden to local taxpayers and businesses.”
You can see the full text of the proposed legislation here.
Earlier this year, Crapo and Risch introduced the “Forest Management for Rural Stability Act.” That bill would also support counties by making the Secure Rural Schools program permanent and create an endowment fund to provide stable, increasing, and reliable funding.