Udall, Tipton urge lawmakers to fund federal PILT program
January 14, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., introduced legislation Monday, Jan. 13, to support cities and towns throughout the state that count on the U.S. Department of the Interior's Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.
Udall's bill would permanently authorize and fund the PILT program and ensure that rural leaders are not left in budget limbo every year due to the uncertainty of the congressional budget process.
PILT issues payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal land within their jurisdictions. The program's payments compensate these communities for their support and for foregoing tax revenues from the federal lands.
The formula used to calculate payments is based on population, receipt-sharing payments and the amount of federal land within an affected county. Local governments are permitted to allocate the funds as they see fit, and oftentimes PILT payments are used to fund public safety, fire-protection, education and other essential services.
“My legislation ensures that our communities can reliably support their police departments, firefighters, schools and other services that help maintain public safety and our quality of life.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall
"The PILT program is essential for rural communities and counties near Colorado's public lands," said Udall in a news release. "Although these stunning natural resources attract tourists and support Main Street businesses, these lands do not directly contribute to the local tax base.
"My legislation ensures that our communities can reliably support their police departments, firefighters, schools and other services that help maintain public safety and our quality of life."
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is a co-sponsor of Udall's legislation.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, also joined in Monday's discussion by urging House and Senate appropriators to maintain funding for the PILT program.
Last year, Colorado received nearly $32 million in PILT payments. A little more than $21 million benefited counties in Tipton's 3rd Congressional District.
In a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees, Tipton highlighted the importance of PILT payments for counties in maintaining public services.
"Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions provide vital services on those lands, such as solid waste management, search and rescue and emergency medical services," Tipton said in the letter. "In some counties, 90 percent or more of the land is federally owned and is neither non-taxable nor productive.
"A fully funded PILT program helps offset the loss of these important revenues and fulfill the federal government's obligation to local communities with large amounts of federal land."
Recent media reports have indicated that PILT funding may not be included in the final appropriations bill to be considered in the House this week, a Tipton news release stated.