IRON COUNTY– The Department of the Interior has issued payments to eligible local governments under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, program. Iron County will receive $3,202,072 in funding this year, exceeding last year’s amount.
The PILT program compensates local jurisdictions for federal lands administered by agencies within the Department and on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The PILT payments may be used for any governmental purpose.
“It will go into the general fund,” Iron County Commissioner David Miller said. “We’ll use it for all the operations of the county, of which some or a part of those funds are appropriated to the municipal service district in the unincorporated area of the county.”
PILT should not be looked at as a discretionary spending measure by Congress, Miller said, but as an obligation of the federal government to the counties for the lands it holds and manages.
“It’s really important that we do not permit the concept that the Western states have public ownership,” Miller said, “because we’d be receiving those dollars if it was owned by private enterprise or any other enterprise. So it’s just really an important recognition that we don’t treat it as if it’s a welfare check for the West.”
The Department of the Interior’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposes a one-year extension of the current full-funding authorization of the PILT program. Approximately 1,900 local jurisdictions received a total of $436.9 million in PILT payments this year.
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