WASHINGTON COUNTY – On Feb. 17 of this year, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that more than $307 million is being distributed to 41 states and Puerto Rico for public schools and roads and specific county programs.
Over $11 million of that disbursement is being released to Utah and over $1.2 million of that is coming to Washington County.
The funding derives from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues from timber sales, mineral leases, recreation, grazing and other sources have been shared with states and counties in which national forest lands are located.
“The annual revenue sharing payments are part of the Department of Agriculture’s long-standing commitment to rural communities, schools and American youth,” said Vilsack.
From the state’s receipt, these funds “are applied for by counties and distributed on basis as determined by each county,” Said Utah Governor’s office spokesman Mike Kjar. But the state government is not involved. Funds go directly to the counties, or the school districts.
The payments are for Title I, Title II and Title III payments to school districts: Title I, disadvantaged elementary and secondary schools; Title II, disabilities; and Title III, disabilities, physical impairments, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, the Act targets rural counties in the United States because rural schools often are unable to provide adequate accommodation for handicapped and disadvantaged students.
The total for Washington County (Dixie National Forest) for this quarter is $645,021.76. Title I is $548,268.50, Title II is $51,601.74, and Title III is $45,151.52.
Washington County also receives, as a separate calculation, $593,420.02 for Dixie National Forest based on a $1.50 per acre calculation. This gives Washington County a total of $1,238,441.78 from the disbursement fund.
(There are other disbursements from this fund for which Utah and/or Washington County do not receive payments.)
In Utah, the counties of Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Daggett, Davis, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Morgan, Piute, Rich, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Uinta, Utah, Wasatch, Washington, Wayne and Weber are all recipients of the funds.
In the 1980s, Forest Service revenues began to decline, largely as a result of changes in social values and diminished timber sales volume. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 authorized enhanced and gradually declining payments to ease the transition to reduced federal revenues. Counties received more than $2.5 billion over seven years until the Act expired in September 2007. In 2008, the Congress extended the program four more years, through 2011.
Since 2008, across the country, 118 resource advisory committees recommended 4,100 projects valued at more than $172 million in more than 300 counties within the nation. More information is available online at the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act website.
“These projects were reviewed and recommended by resource advisory committees made up of local residents working together to improve the environment and help provide jobs in rural communities,” Vilsack said.
The instant $307 million distribution announced Feb. 17 marks final payments under the extended Act. The four years of payments will total $1.5 billion of support to rural schools and roads and $87 million paid to counties for wildfire preparedness and to reimburse counties for emergency services provided on national forests.
The current distribution is allocated to states as follows:
New Hampshire $563,763
New Mexico $11,823,591
New York $22,734
North Carolina $1,897,848
North Dakota $589
Puerto Rico $159,100
South Carolina $1,868,282
South Dakota $1,834,152
West Virginia $1,863,052
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.