WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall expressed support for renewing 2015 funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.
The federal PILT program is meant to help local governments that have large federal-land holdings make up for lost tax revenue. Federal lands aren’t liable to property taxes. The program is especially important in the West, which contains large federal holdings, such as national parks, national forests, Bureau of Land Management holdings and military bases.
“We’re asking the Congress to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion, to secure 2015 Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding,” said Matt Chase, executive director of National Association of Counties, in a meeting last week.
Several members of Congress brought attention to the importance of the payments on a county level during Thursday’s meeting, including Bennet.
“If we held our officials in Washington accountable to the same standards that we hold our locally elected officials,” Bennet said, “we wouldn’t have half the problems we’re having.”
The PILT program was extended for one year as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.
The PILT fund awarded $760,000 to La Plata County for its 432,917 acres of federal land. PILT payments are determined on a county-by-county basis, according to Brian Namey, director of media relations of the National Association of Counties.
Udall also emphasized the importance of PILT, as well as the Land & Water Conservation Fund and Secure Rural Schools program for the state.
“We have a dynamic trio of very important programs,” he said in a news release. “They help support Colorado’s communities and our special way of life.”
The LWCF is funded in part by proceeds from off-shore gas-and-oil production, supporting land management on a local and federal level.
“In Colorado, we’ve seen firsthand how LWCF dollars have helped protect access to the public lands that define us as a state,” Udall said in the Senate last week.
The three programs have not been scheduled for discussion in Congress. The meeting was held in part to push Congress to take them up when members return in November and December.
email@example.com. Iulia Gheorghiu is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.