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September 26, 2016
Citing the critical role that the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program plays on many rural county budgets, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch on Thursday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid urging them to work together to ensure that the PILT program is fully funded in any year-end legislation likely to be signed into law.

The letter to McConnell and Reid was led by Crapo and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).

The PILT program compensates rural counties for federal lands that are managed by the U.S. Department of Interior that cannot be taxed. Such lands include parks, forests, Bureau of Land Management lands and wildlife refuges.

PILT provides federal payments to nearly 1,900 local governments across 49 states to help offset losses in property taxes because of nontaxable federal land within state boundaries.

Such payments are essential for counties across the country and are used to fund services such as police, fire protection, and emergency response. Funding for each county is determined by a formula and is based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction.

“PILT funding is an important resource for many counties in Idaho and other rural and western communities,” said Crapo. “The strong showing of bipartisan senators on this letter is evidence that PILT payments are critical to communities nationwide. I will work with my colleagues to secure funding for this important program in a fiscally-responsible manner.”

Noting that the federal government is the majority landowner in many Idaho counties, Senator Risch said: “PILT provides payments to counties to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal land within their boundaries. Reauthorizing PILT is necessary to avoid severe cuts in our county budgets.”