PILT Program Compensates Communities for Supporting Nation’s Public Lands, Waters; Invests in Firefighters, Police, School and Road Construction

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has announced 55 local governments in Montana are receiving a total of $40.1 million under the 2018 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, demonstrating the Administration’s commitment to local communities. This is the largest amount ever allocated in the program’s 40-year history.

“Local 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 Zinke. “These investments often serve as a lifeline for local communities as they juggle planning and paying for basic services like public safety, fire-fighting, social services and transportation.”

PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments that contain non-taxable Federal lands within their boundaries. These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas throughout the year. PILT seeks to compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on Federally-owned land.

Local payments include:

  • Chouteau County - $408,703
  • Cascade County - $576,564
  • Glacier County - $1,084,335
  • Hill County - $116,513
  • Liberty County - $82,376
  • Pondera County - $289,984
  • Teton County - $760,870
  • Toole County - $86,744

“These investments are one of the ways the federal government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities,” said Secretary Zinke. “President Trump has made job creation and opportunity in rural areas a top priority for his Administration and strongly supported the PILT program.” A full list of funding by state and county is available at www.doi.gov/pilt.

“Montana’s rural communities are vital to our state’s economy and way of life,” said Senator Steve Daines. “These funds will give our rural communities a helping hand with affording essential services for the folks in their communities.”

“Montanans pay local taxes to pay for roads, schools, and public safety,” said Congressman Greg Gianforte. “The federal government, as a landowner throughout Montana, needs to meet its obligations to our communities, and our counties need the certainty that comes from Payments In Lieu of Taxes. I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s announcement today that the federal government will keep its commitment to Montana’s communities and give them the certainty they need to plan and make needed investments.”

“PILT for our state is crucial in providing essential services like public safety to the citizens,” said Montana Association of Counties President and Lake County Commissioner Bill Barron. “This program is indispensable to Montana and our rural communities.”

Using a formula provided by statute, the annual PILT payments to local governments are computed based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems; lands in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge System; areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management; areas managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects; and others.

Since PILT payments began in 1977, Interior has distributed approximately $8.5 billion dollars to states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

The Department collects more than $9.6 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.

Individual county payments may vary from year to 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 are made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous fiscal year, including payments such as those made under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Power Act, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, when authorized.