On June 24, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland announced that over $529.3 million will be distributed to counties in 2021 through the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Absent Congressional action, these payments will be the last fully funded PILT disbursement for counties. A complete list of funding by state and county is available here.
The PILT program provides payments to counties and other local governments to offset losses in tax revenues due to the presence of substantial federal land acreage within their jurisdictions. Because local governments cannot tax the property values or products derived from federal lands, PILT payments are necessary to support essential local government services – those mandated by law – such as education, emergency services, transportation infrastructure, law enforcement and health care. PILT reaches over 1,900 counties in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Since PILT payments began over 40 years ago, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has invested nearly $10.2 billion through the PILT program in counties across the country. As Secretary Haaland stated in her announcement, “This year’s distribution of $529.3 million to more than 1,900 counties will help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations…These disbursements are a great example of our commitment to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve.”
NACo applauds Congress and the administration for their support of America’s public lands counties. We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government to find a long-term, sustainable solution to fully fund the PILT program for FY 2022 and into the future.