As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to rural communities, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that about 1,900 local governments around the country are receiving a total of $436.9 million under the 2014 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
The payments represent the largest amount ever allocated under the PILT program to compensate counties and local governments for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions. A full list of funding by state and county is available at www.doi.gov/pilt.
"Rural communities contribute significantly to our nation's economy, food and energy supply, and help define the character of our diverse and beautiful country," Secretary Jewell said. "President Obama has made job creation and opportunity in rural areas a top priority for his Administration and has fought for continuing the PILT program, which is a lifeline for many local communities."
PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments (mostly rural counties) that contain non-taxable federal lands and provide vital services, such as public safety, housing, social services and transportation. These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas throughout the year. PILT seeks to compensate them for their support and foregoing tax revenue from these federal lands.
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.
"PILT payments help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations. These critical investments help keep essential public employees on the job," added Jewell. "President Obama has proposed to fully fund the PILT program, and we encourage Congress to take the required action to make sure this important program continues."
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 are 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.
Individual county payments may vary from the prior year as a result of changes in acreage data, which is updated yearly by the federal agency administering the land, prior year Federal Revenue Sharing payments reported yearly by the governor of each state, and population data, which is updated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Federal Revenue Sharing payments are made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous fiscal year. Payments include those made under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, among others.
By statute, the per acre and population variables used in the formula to compute payment amounts are subject to annual inflationary adjustments using the Consumer Price Index. The requirement for annual inflationary adjustments to the per acre and population variables was included in the 1994 amendments to the PILT Act. For purposes of calculating the 2014 payment, the 2013 per acre amounts are adjusted from $2.54 per acre and $0.35 per acre to $2.58 and $0.36 per acre, and the population variables are adjusted from $68.45 - $171.11 to $69.59 - $173.97 per capita.