PILT Payments to Alaskan Communities Announced
Ketchikan Borough's PILT Amount $1,115,667
June 22, 2016
“Rural communities contribute significantly to our nation's economy, food and energy supply, and help define the character of our diverse and beautiful country,” said Secretary Jewell. “These investments often serve as a lifeline for local communities as they juggle planning and paying for basic services like public safety, housing, social services and transportation.”
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced communities in Alaska will receive nearly $29 million of that amount to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries. As Chairman of the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski said in a news release she ensured the PILT program was "robustly" funded for Fiscal Year 2016 and is fully funded for Fiscal Year 2017.
“PILT is essential for many local governments and communities across our state to fund necessary projects to offset the loss in tax revenue,” said Senator Murkowski.
“With the federal government controlling over 60 percent of Alaska’s lands, this program ensures communities a source of funding to help pay for emergency services, roads and other essential services that would otherwise be supported through local property taxes,” said Murkowski.
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.
Congress appropriated $451.6 million for payments to counties/boroughs for the 2016 program. The President’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposes to return the PILT program to mandatory funding at $480 million annually, which would ensure funding stability for the program and local communities year after year.
“These investments are one of the ways the federal government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities,” said Secretary Jewell. “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. We encourage Congress to take the required action to make sure this important program continues.”
The revenue helps local governments provide vital services to Alaskan communities, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations.
The Interior Department collects more than $11 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues is shared with states and counties. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of federal activities, including PILT funding to counties.
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 county/borough. PILT payments are in addition to other Federal revenues (such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting) the Federal Government transfers to the states.
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 information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Federal Revenue Sharing payments were made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous fiscal year, including the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, among others.
The U.S. Department of Interior has distributed more than $7.5 billion dollars in PILT payments to states (except Rhode Island), the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands since these payments began in 1977.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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