With 2017 quickly nearing an end, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is leading a coalition of impacted counties, school districts and other interested organizations in sending a letter to congressional leaders urging them to fully fund the Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for FY 2018 and reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program until a permanent solution is developed. Congress must work quickly to pass several bills to keep the government open and fund important programs before the end of 2017, providing ideal opportunities for Congress to fully fund PILT, reauthorize the SRS program and fulfill their longstanding obligation to public lands counties across the country. We have seen a groundswell of support from public lands counties across the country, with over 700 signatures so far, but we are still pushing to ensure that every PILT and SRS-impacted county has an opportunity to make their voice heard in support of these critical programs.
PILT was created in 1976 to compensate counties for forgone tax revenues due to the presence of substantial acreage of federal land within their jurisdictions. Sixty-two percent of counties in 49 states nationwide contain tax-exempt federal lands and are required to provide critical services to residents and visitors on these lands, including search and rescue services, emergency management, law enforcement and education. Without Congressional action to fully fund PILT for FY 2018 and beyond, counties will have received their last fully funded PILT disbursement in 2017. Without mandatory full funding, PILT will remain a discretionary program and could fall back to pre-2008 funding levels, which would devastate local government service delivery for public lands counties.
The SRS program was created in 2000 under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act as counties faced dramatic reductions in timber revenues from federal forest land due to federal policies restricting revenue-generating activity on federal public lands. SRS supports essential county functions, including education, public safety and environmental stewardship. The SRS program expired in September 2015 and has not been reauthorized for FY 2016 or beyond, leaving the availability of future SRS payments in jeopardy. If Congress fails to renew this long-standing federal obligation to forest counties and to the lands managed by the federal government by not improving forest management and reauthorizing the SRS program, counties across the United States will face dramatic budgetary shortfalls.
If your county, school district or other organization is interested in signing onto this letter, please fill out this webform, and you will be added to it. Congress must work quickly to pass several bills to keep the government open and fund important programs before the end of 2017 — ideal opportunities to fully fund PILT and reauthorize the SRS program.
Our goal is to get every PILT and SRS impacted county, school district and state association to sign on to this letter before we send it to House and Senate leadership. We currently have over 700 signatures, but we still need your help to make our collective voice as strong as possible! The deadline to sign on as a supporter is 6:00 p.m. EST on Monday, November 27.
- To learn more about PILT, click here.
- To learn more about SRS, click here.
- To see how PILT impacts your individual county, click here.
- To see how SRS impacts your individual county, click here.
- Sign on to the coalition letter in support of PILT and SRS.