PILT funds announced today

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that more than 1,850 local governments around the nation will receive payments totaling $375.2 million under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program this year to compensate them for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions.

Of that, just over $27 million, or 7% of the total, will come to Colorado, making Colorado #5 on the list of states receiving the money. California is first with $38 million, followed by Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

In Colorado, Eagle County received the most, at just under $2.1 million, followed by Montrose County at just a hair less, then Mesa, Larimer, Park, Routt, Fremont, Chaffee and Pitkin, all receiving between $1 and $2 million.

In the metro area, Denver got nothing, Douglas County will receive almost $300,000, Jefferson County just over $120,000 and Arapahoe County a whopping $1500.

“During these challenging fiscal times, these payments will help local communities across the nation continue to fund essential services, such as firefighting and emergency response programs, and allow for additional improvements to school, road and water systems ,” Salazar said in announcing the allocations. “These communities provide significant support for federal lands throughout the year and PILT funding seeks to compensate them for the foregone revenue from these lands.”

The Interior Department collects about $13 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues are shared with states and counties in the form of revenue-sharing payments. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of federal activities, including PILT funding to counties.

Payment eligibility is reserved for local governments (usually counties) that contain nontaxable federal lands and provide vital government services, such as public safety, housing, social services, transportation and the environment.

A complete list of funding by state and county is online.

This year’s PILT program is funded at full entitlement levels under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which enacted a five-year authorization for full funding of the PILT program.

Using a formula provided in statute, the annual PILT payments to local governments are computed based on the number of acres of federal entitlement land within each county or jurisdiction and the population within that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems, those managed by the Bureau of Land Management, those affected by Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects, and others.

Individual county payments may vary from the prior year as a result of changes in acreage data, which is updated yearly by the federal agency administering the land, and population data, which is updated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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