Funding Would Relieve Financial Strain on Elko and Local Communities
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Harry Reid is committed to increase funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program that could bring nearly $1.9 million to Elko County next year.
The PILT program provides payments to local communities to compensate them for losses to their tax bases that result from the presence of significant amounts of federal land in their counties. It provides funding to county governments for essential services like roads, law enforcement and education.
Reid recently led a bipartisan effort, and was joined by 55 fellow senators including Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), to encourage the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee panel to increase PILT funding to $240 million in 2007. This funding level would translate to roughly $1.9 million in funding for Elko County which is typically used to fund police, fire, and ambulance services.
Reid’s request of $240 million for PILT nationwide is $42 million more than was requested in the President’s budget, and an increase of $4 million over last year’s funding level.
These funds are absolutely essential for local governments and Reid is continuing a multi-year effort to fully fund this important program. Last year Senator Reid led the fight for a record appropriation of $236 million for the nationwide PILT program. Due in part to Reid’s efforts, Elko County received $1,784,436 in PILT payments in 2005. “This funding is a small amount of the federal budget but would mean a whole lot to Elko County,” said Reid. “They rely heavily on PILT monies to fund vital community projects that Nevada families depend on, from schools and hospitals to law enforcement and fire fighters.”
In response to the fight for increasing PILT funds, Larry Naake, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties said, “On behalf of NACo member counties in the western part of the country, I commend Senators Reid and Thomas for their bipartisan efforts to fight budget cuts in the PILT program”.
The State of Nevada is comprised of almost 87% public land, including 48 million acres of BLM land and 6 million acres of national forest land. PILT funds are distributed to counties based on a formula that evaluates the total acreage of federal lands and the size of the local population, among other factors.
All 17 Nevada counties receive PILT payments. In each of the last several years, Nevada counties have received an excess of $13 million.
Last year Senator Reid worked closely with members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committee to achieve a record PILT funding level of $236 million.