Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) led a bi-partisan group of 95 Members of Congress urging House leadership to secure full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program, which is critical to southern Utah.
Nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states receive PILT funding to compensate for lost tax revenue due to the large amounts of federal lands in their counties, which are un-taxable according to federal law.
Specifically in Utah, 67 percent of the land is owned by the federal government and is un-taxable. In 2016 alone, southern Utah received over $9,000,000 in PILT payments, which were critical to maintain county public services. A breakdown of the payments by county in Utah can be found here.
“If Congress fails to fully fund the PILT program by the end of the year, public lands counties across the nation will be unable to provide essential public services such as: law enforcement, search and rescue, public health and critical transportation infrastructure,” Stewart wrote in a letter sent to House leadership.
Current PILT funding is set to expire on September 30, 2016, the end of the fiscal year.
“With so much of our land controlled by the federal government, PILT funding is critical for the operation of Washington County,” Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “Rep. Stewart’s efforts are extremely important and I join him in urging House leadership for full funding.”
Stewart also urged leadership to enact a fiscally responsible, long-term and sustainable solution to fully fund the program beyond next year.
The full text of the letter is below. The PDF can be found here.
Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi,
For more than 40 years, the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program has played a critical role in supporting our local communities by providing critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states to offset lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions. As 2016 comes to an end, we urge you to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to ensure the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program is fully funded for FY 2017 and beyond.
For FY 2017, the U.S. Department of Interior has estimated that $480 million dollars will be necessary to fully fund PILT. If Congress fails to fully fund the PILT program by the end of the year, public lands counties across the nation will be unable to provide essential public services such as: law enforcement, search and rescue, public health and critical transportation infrastructure.
Current discretionary appropriations for the PILT program are set to expire on September 30, 2016. Without the certainty of full PILT funding for FY 2017, we risk severely crippling counties’ ability to provide essential services for their residents and public lands visitors alike.
Moving forward, we hope Congress can work together to enact a fiscally responsible, long-term and sustainable solution to fully fund PILT in FY 2017 and beyond. As counties across the United States works to balance their budgets, it is essential that Congress act to reaffirm the federal government’s long-standing commitment to public lands counties by fully funding PILT.
We look forward to working with you to end the financial uncertainty facing thousands of counties nationwide, and we thank you for your attention to this critical issue.