WTAS: U.S. Department of Interior Distributes More Than $514M to Communities, Supports Critical Local Services
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced that more than 1,900 local governments around the country will receive $514.7 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2020.
“This year’s distribution of $514.7 million to more than 1,900 counties will help small towns pay for critical needs like emergency response, public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
PILT 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), for lands administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS); and for Federal water projects and some military installations.
DOI collects more than $13.2 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues are shared with States and counties. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of Federal activities, including PILT funding.
A full list of funding by State and county is available at www.doi.gov/pilt.
Find the full release here.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“Over 60 percent of counties contain untaxable federal lands within their jurisdiction. The PILT program helps to support critical county services for residents and visitors in and around these lands,” said Executive Director of National Association of Counties (NACo) Matthew Chase. “County governments are responsible for emergency response, health services, infrastructure maintenance, environmental stewardship, public safety and more. We thank Secretary Bernhardt and our partners in Congress for ensuring full PILT funding that strengthens our communities.”
“The Payment In Lieu of Taxes program is vital across the West for the provision of state and county public goods and services, such as roads, emergency response, and wildlife and natural resources protection,” said Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association Jim Ogsbury.
“With the federal government controlling over 60 percent of Alaska’s lands, PILT funding has always been important for our state. But now, with COVID-19 causing widespread uncertainty and instability, PILT will be critical in helping boroughs across Alaska to maintain sustainable economies. This program helps keep schools up and running, bolsters life-saving emergency services, and helps ensure firefighters and police officers are able to safely and effectively do their jobs,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We worked hard in the appropriations process to secure full funding for Alaska through this program. Now, as the Department of the Interior distributes these much-needed payments, I look forward to seeing positive impacts they will have in Alaskan communities.”
“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 U.S. Representative Don Young (AK-At-large). “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.”
“I thank the Trump administration for their strong commitment to the PILT program,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “With local tax revenues temporarily reduced due to COVID-19, the fair compensation provided by PILT goes a long way toward meeting the public safety and educational needs of our boroughs and local communities.”
“Arizona has a massive federal footprint and this funding stream is essential for rural counties to provide basic services such as education, police, infrastructure maintenance, and so on. I have been a consistent and longtime supporter of PILT and am glad to see the distribution of these payments to several of Arizona’s local governments,” said U.S. Senator Martha McSally (AZ).
“Today’s announcement provides a needed economic boost for Arizona first responders, health care workers, and local communities and will help our state continue to grow and thrive,” said U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).
“I welcome today’s announcement by the Department of the Interior,” said U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-04). “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.”
“With Mohave County being made up of approximately 83% of federal lands, PILT funding is critical to the well-being of our county. We received a little over $3 million dollars last year. Without continual congressional authorization for PILT, we would be forced to shift federal responsibilities to local taxpayers or drastically cut essential services such as education, law enforcement, and road maintenance,” said Mohave County, Arizona Supervisor Buster Johnson.
“With only 26% of the land in Yavapai County being held by private interests, PILT payments are very important to help offset losses in property taxes due to large amounts of federal lands within our county. We received approximately $3.5 million this year in PILT and the funds were critical to our county’s ability to provide needed services such as law-enforcement, detention services, court services, and many other required services to our citizens,” said Yavapai County, Arizona Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig L. Brown.
“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 U.S. Representative Paul Cook (CA-08).
“The federal government owns nearly half of my home state of California, and 96 percent of Alpine County in my district – all land that is off the tax rolls. Every county in my district relies heavily on PILT funding to compensate for its lost tax revenues. I’m gratified that we were able to win another full year of PILT funding that goes directly to the communities of the Sierra Nevada,” said U.S. Representative Tom McClintock (CA-04).
“With local governments struggling to deal with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, this federal assistance is now more important than ever,” said U.S. Representative Jim Costa (CA-16). “I have been a longtime supporter of the PILT program and am pleased to see counties in the San Joaquin Valley are benefiting.”
“PILT is a vital funding source due to the immense amount of public lands throughout San Bernardino County. This partnership with the Department of the Interior assists in the county’s effort to improve infrastructure, emergency services, and law enforcement in our rural communities,” said San Bernardino County, California Supervisor Dawn Rowe.
“The PILT program helps rural communities across Colorado sustain critical services for their residents,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (CO). “These resources are lifelines for rural counties as they continue to face the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help support law enforcement, firefighters, and search and rescue operations. Now we must continue the fight to secure long-term full funding for PILT, to provide certainty for our rural communities.”
“The PILT program is an important resource for many counties in Colorado and across the country with large amounts of tax-exempt federal lands,” said U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (CO). “This year Colorado will receive more than $41 million in critical funding to support essential services like search and rescue missions, emergency medical services, law enforcement, school maintenance and upkeep, and infrastructure improvements in rural areas.”
“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 U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (CO-03).
“Counties in Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District contain vast expanses of public lands that are non-taxable. PILT grants help to bridge the fiscal challenges created by their inability to collect tax revenues from federal land,” said U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-05). “I am pleased to see this critical funding go back into communities in the Pikes Peak region to support essential services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and law enforcement.
“Colorado’s public lands are central to our way of life and economy, and PILT is a vital program for Colorado’s rural and mountain communities ensuring our local governments can provide essential services,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “Particularly during this challenging time, Colorado and our local governments value the long-standing federal partnership that is the PILT program.”
“Federal Land covers 72 percent of Mesa County. The PILT payment is very important to us to help cover the County’s cost of providing services to this land,” said Mesa County, Colorado Commissioner John Justman.
“The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program has been vital to local governments in Florida, such as Collier County, which receives the highest funding number in the state. This funding helps provide emergency and social services to our community and assists in the development and improvement of their infrastructure,” said U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). “As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, I fought for strong funding for the PILT program and am pleased to see the 2020 distributions go out to localities across the country, and especially here in Florida.”
“I’m pleased that Georgia will receive nearly $3 million in PILT funding,” said U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (GA). “These investments serve as a lifeline for many rural communities across the Peach State as they plan and provide critical emergency services, education and road maintenance that residents rely on.”
“The PILT program is a critical lifeline for Idaho’s many rural communities surrounded by large swaths of federal land. The $33.8 million in funds from the Department of Interior will help local governments across Idaho carry out vital functions such as firefighting, public safety and social services,” said U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (ID). “I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress on enacting a long-term PILT program reauthorization to ensure fiscal certainty for these rural counties.”
“The federal government owns two out of every three acres in Idaho, significantly limiting the revenue available to counties to provide vital services for their residents. The federal government made a commitment to support our counties, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a long-term solution for PILT,” said U.S. Senator Jim Risch (ID).
“For years, rural counties in Idaho have experienced strained budgets due to immense federal land ownership in the West,” said U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher (ID-01). “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.”
“I applaud the Trump Administration 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 U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (ID-02).
“Blaine County Idaho is responsible for emergency response, health services, infrastructure maintenance, environmental stewardship, public safety, education, law enforcement, road maintenance, emergency response, wildlife and natural resources protection and more. The Payments In Lieu of Taxes program is vital to our County which is made up of approximately 83% federally managed lands. PILT funding is critical to the well-being of our county and without continual congressional authorization for PILT, we would be forced to shift federal responsibilities to local taxpayers. In this environment of anti-property tax increases, the County would have to drastically cut essential services. Blaine County thanks you for funding and asks that you find a way to permanently fund PILT,” said Blaine County, Idaho Commissioners Chairman Jacob Greenberg.
“PILT funding is crucial for communities across Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Today’s PILT distribution announcement by the Department of Interior is great news and will help ensure local governments with federal lands have the necessary funding to meet their education, public safety, and infrastructure needs. I am a proud advocate of PILT funding as a Member of Congress and am grateful for this Administration’s work to carry out the program in its continued support of First District priorities,” said U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (MI-01).
“Cook County Minnesota has appreciated our PILT payments for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to provide needed public safety services and infrastructure to our remote areas. We are a small county and these payments help us with the increased demand for public services resulting from millions of visitors coming to our area,” said Cook County, Minnesota Board Chair Myron Bursheim.
“These funds come during a time of need for many of our local governments. I applaud Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, his staff, and the Trump Administration for their hard work to ensure these critical funds reach our state,” said U.S. Representative Michael Guest (MS-03).
“PILT payments provide critical support to Montana’s rural counties,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines (MT). “I’ve worked hard to support the PILT program which provides critical resources for essential services like emergency response efforts and transportation in Montana’s rural counties. Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding is more important than ever.”
“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 Payments 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 U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (MT-At-large).
“Nevada’s rural counties rely on the Department of the Interior’s PILT program to help their local governments fund public safety, housing, transportation, and public lands maintenance projects. As our communities face unprecedented challenges in the wake of coronavirus, PILT payments will help local leaders continue to provide essential services to Nevadans across the state,” said U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV). “I’ll continue to fight for the long-term stabilization of the PILT program so that our rural communities can rebound quickly from the impacts of this pandemic and confidently plan for future growth and development.”
“States like Nevada need revenue to offset budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic’s fallout, and this PILT distribution helps,” said U.S. Representative Susie Lee (NV-03). “Much of our state is made up of federal land, and this funding will give our communities additional revenue to draw from during a time when every dollar counts. I thank the Department of the Interior for this distribution and I will continue to work with members from both parties to ensure that federal funds make their way to Nevada.”
“There is bipartisan agreement that the PILT program is essential in providing local government near public land funding for essential services,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. “In a time where state and local governments are squeezed for funding because of the impacts of the pandemic, this stream of revenue is particularly important. I look forward to the Trump Administration showing a similar interest in addressing our broader needs in the next recovery package.”
“Nye County is approximately 98% federal lands. PILT is a funding mechanism providing local governments the means to lost public property tax revenues. Nye County received a little over $3 million dollars last year. Without this federal partnership through the Department of the Interior and continual congressional authorization for PILT, we as a County would face passing federal responsibilities to local taxpayers or drastically cut essential services such as education, health and human services, law enforcement, and road maintenance, all of which I believe are important to constituents,” said Nye County, Nevada Commissioner Leo Blundo.
“These payments provide important support for localities impacted by the presence of tax-exempt federal lands, which reduce their tax base and make it challenging to invest in essential services including schools, first responders and other priorities. That’s why we ensure strong funding for the PILT account each year through our appropriations legislation, and we welcome this distribution to North Dakota’s counties,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven (ND).
“The PILT program is important for the North Dakota counties which contain federal land,” said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (ND). “It helps local governments fund schools, roads, bridges, public safety efforts, and other critical needs. I am grateful to Secretary Bernhardt and the Interior Department for being good federal partners for our state.”
“Home to many recreational areas, wildlife reserves and many other federal projects, I am glad to see the Fourth District of Oklahoma will be receiving these distributions,” said U.S. Representative Tom Cole (OK-04). “These funds will be helpful to offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands and provide more support for communities.”
“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,” said U.S. Representative Greg Walden (OR-02). “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.”
“Land in Deschutes County is almost 80% federally owned. The federal Payments In Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT, provides a small offset to the loss of tax revenue due to the large federal land holdings in our county. In addition to providing revenue to general fund services, Deschutes County uses PILT revenue to fund road maintenance and capital construction, in addition to the efforts of the County’s Natural Resource Department in fire prevention and preparedness activities,” said Deschutes County, Oregon Commissioner Patti Adair.
“Federal Lands make up nearly 60% of Klamath County. PILT payments ensure continued services for the many residents and visitors to these lands every year. Without these essential revenues, services would be severely curtailed,” said Klamath County, Oregon Commissioners Vice Chair Derrick DeGroot.
“Rural communities in South Dakota should not fall behind because of large amounts of nontaxable federal property,” said U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (SD-At-large). “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.”
“I have the privilege of representing a district that includes 8 national parks and many other federal historic sites. These landmarks are economic engines, but they also require a significant amount of services to maintain and operate, which is supplied by the state and local governments where they are located. PILT payments are crucial to ensuring the preservation and operation of these sites, and I’m glad to see the Department of Interior announce these payments to offset the costs borne by Texas and the counties I represent,” said U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23).
“PILT is crucial to the economic security of Utah’s rural counties, some of which are more than 90 percent owned by the federal government. While these counties are grateful for every dollar they get, the harsh reality is that PILT provides mere pennies on the dollar compared to the property taxes they would get if the land was privately owned. Our counties deserve better. Congress must come up with a fairer, more permanent solution that provides counties with more certainty and payments that more closely reflect lost property taxes,” said U.S. Senator Mike Lee (UT).
“The PILT program is essential in funding schools, infrastructure, and services in many of our state’s urban and rural counties, and this year our counties will receive more than $39 million in payments for these critical needs. While this funding is nowhere near equal to the tax revenues these communities are deprived of due to government ownership over the land, the program aims to compensate our communities for some of the lost tax revenue. I was pleased to advocate for this funding and will continue fighting for greater state and local involvement in the decisions made over the lands in our state,” said U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (UT).
“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 U.S. Representative Chris Stewart (UT-02).
“I’m grateful for the work of Congress and Secretary Bernhardt to provide an increase in PILT payments,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. “These payments are especially important for many of our rural counties that must provide services for residents and visitors despite overwhelming federal land ownership and the corresponding lack of a tax base. As we learn more about the value of federal land locked up within city boundaries, I encourage our federal partners to look at ways of disposing of these isolated parcels and providing our rural cities and counties a better tax base and less dependence on federal payments.”
“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,” said U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-04). “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.”
“Around the country, rural counties continue to face growing financial uncertainty. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as rural counties with small budgets respond to this public health crisis, support is more important than ever,” said U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05). “This PILT funding from the Department of the Interior, which I have long supported in Congress, is essential to Eastern Washington counties’ ability to fund roads, schools, law enforcement, and other essential services.”
“It is welcome news to hear that this funding is coming to West Virginia, especially for our more rural communities that have larger amounts of federal land,” said U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV). “In April, I wrote a letter in support of the reauthorization of PILT programs and have supported funding for the program as a member of the Appropriations committee. The COVID-19 pandemic has put such a limit on the financial ability of our localities in West Virginia, and the PILT distributions will provide much needed stability when we need it the most. I’m thankful that the Department of the Interior (DOI) recognized the value of this program in our state.”
“It is absolutely crucial that we revitalize and reinvest in Southern West Virginia and rural communities across the country,” said U.S. Representative Carol Miller (WV-03). “These funds from the Department of the Interior allow us to strengthen our rural communities by providing access to quality education and stable infrastructure, which are essential in our modern economy. Under the Trump Administration and Secretary Bernhardt’s leadership, we are working to bridge the gap between our rural and urban communities to create opportunities for success for all Americans.”
“Payments in Lieu of Taxes are an important part of our Federal and State relationship. Wyoming is nearly 50% Federally owned, if privately owned, these properties would supply property and other taxes to local and state governments. The announcement that these payments are ready is welcome news in these difficult economic times,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.
About the U.S. Department of Interior
The Department of the Interior conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.