Gardner joins call for full funding of PILT program

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), as part of a bipartisan group of more than 30 senators, sent a letter on Friday to Senate leadership calling for full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, as well as responsible budget offsets, before the end of the year.

Counties that contain federal land within their borders are provided funding through PILT, offsetting lost property tax revenue that comes from non-taxable federal land.

“PILT provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states to offset lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions,” the letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), said. “Without full funding for the PILT program before the end of the year, counties across the nation will be unable to provide essential services such as education, law enforcement, search and rescue, road maintenance and public health to residents and millions of federal lands visitors alike.”

The letter calls for the inaction of a long-term, fiscally responsible, sustainable solution to fully fund PILT and eliminate funding uncertainty for PILT counties.

“However, as the end of the year approaches, enacting full-funding for PILT in FY 2016 is essential in order to provide counties with the certainty they need to plan their own budgets and continue providing essential county services,” the letter said. “We look forward to working with you to resolve this pressing issue facing our communities in FY16 and in the coming years.”

Payments from PILT aid local governments in paying for fire and police protection public school and road construction, and search and rescue operations. Payments for the program are made annually for tax exempt federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and for Federal water projects and some military installations.