U.S. Senator Mark Begich welcomed today's Department of Interior (DOI) announcement that $28.5 million in payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) funding will be distributed to Alaska communities to support local government services. The funds are part of a nationwide PILT payment of $436.9 million, the largest amount ever allocated under the PILT program.
"As a former mayor, I know what these funds can mean for Alaska's small communities surrounded by federal lands," said Begich. "They're vital to keeping schools open, streets plowed, and cops on the beat. Moving forward, I'll be working with the Alaska delegation and colleagues across the country to provide the certainty that long-term reauthorization of this program offers local communities and local budgeting decisions."
PILT is a federal program that compensates counties and local governments for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions. Local governments use PILT funding for public safety, housing, social services and transportation.
This year's PILT program is the last to be funded under the Agriculture Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79), which reauthorized PILT for 2014 and funded full entitlement levels of the program. From 2008 through 2012, the program was funded under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141) provided funding for the program in 2013. The President's fiscal year 2015 budget proposes to extend mandatory full funding for the program for another year while a sustainable long-term funding solution is developed for the PILT program.
The Interior Department collects about $14 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 is distributed to 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 that benefit state and local governments, including PILT funding to counties.
Using a formula provided by 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 of that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems, the areas managed by Bureau of Land Management, those affected by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects, and others.