SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Communities See Increase in PILT Payments
By Mary Kauffman, SitNews


June 15, 2012

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - The U.S. Department of the Interior is distributing nearly $27 million to Alaskan communities in compensation for taxes that could not be levied on federal lands in their jurisdictions during fiscal year 2012.

“With the federal government owning 60 percent of Alaska, the payment in lieu of taxes program ensures communities a source of funding to pay for emergency services, roads and other items that would otherwise be supported through local property taxes,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

This year’s PILT program is the last to be funded under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which enacted a five-year authorization for funding full entitlement levels of the program. The 2013 budget proposes a one-year extension of the current PILT program, maintaining the existing formula for calculating payments to counties – considering acreage, population and prior year revenue payments.

“It is hard to overstate the impact of PILT funding for rural counties in particular, where these investments can make the difference in keeping a search and rescue crew on the job or a teacher in the classroom,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar when he announced the PILT payments Thursday. “It is a program we firmly believe should be extended, and we hope Congress will take the action that’s needed.”

On the 3,052,122 total acres of federal lands in Ketchikan's jurisdiction, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough will be receiving $1,038,263 in compensation for taxes that could not be levied. In 2011, the Ketchikan Borough received $1,006,148.

The formula used to compute the payments is contained in the PILT Act and is based on population, receipt sharing payments, and the amount of Federal land within an affected area.

For purposes of calculating the 2012 payment, the per acre amounts are adjusted for inflation from the 2011 payment of $2.42 per acre and thirty-three cents per acre to $2.47 and thirty-four cents per acre, and the population variables are adjusted from $65.20 - $162.98 to $66.49 - $166.21 per capita. The 2012 authorized level is $393.4 million. This includes $400,000 for program administration and $393 million for payments to counties/boroughs.

The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program provides monetary compensation to local governments that contain National Forests, Bureau of Land Management public lands, National Parks and other lands dedicated to water resource development projects. The revenue helps local governments provide vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations.

Around Southeast Alaska, Prince of Wales will receive $670,334 (an increase from $650,925 in 2011), the Sitka City Borugh will receive $610,074 (an increase from $592,104 in 2011), Petersburg Census Area will receive $637,280 (an increase from $616,724 in 2011) and the Wrangell Borough will receive $395,518 (an increase from $352,810 in 2011).

The Interior Department collects about $16 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 shared with states and boroughs 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, including PILT funding to boroughs.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


On the Web:

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) - Search Alaska

Source of News: 

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski



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