Tag Archive for PILT

Farm bill includes payments to rural counties

By By MATTHEW DALY WASHINGTON (AP) — The farm bill that has cleared the House includes a one-year extension of a federal program that compensates rural counties for federal lands they can’t tax. About 1,900 local governments – mostly in the West – received a total of $400 million last year under the program, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILT…. …read more

From: AP Washington News

    

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WDFW Commission approves land purchases for wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation

The properties, both situated on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, will be managed to benefit wildlife, while also providing public access for outdoor recreation, Wecker said.

Dan Budd, WDFW real estate manager, said the department secured an option to purchase the 5,497-acre Manastash property in Yakima County from the Nature Conservancy for an assessed price of $4,675,000.

Once that sale is finalized, the property will become part of WDFW’s L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, the third such acquisition in that area for WDFW since 2007 under the multi-party Heart of the Cascades land-conservation project.

The smaller property in Yakima County, historically owned by timber companies, is located within WDFW’s Wenas Wildlife Area and home to elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and a variety of other species. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has offered to sell the property to the department for its assessed price of $230,000.

Budd noted that WDFW will make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) to counties on both properties once the purchases have been finalized. PILT payments are designed to compensate counties for the loss of local property taxes, which cannot be levied on state-owned lands.

In other business, the commission heard comments from nearly a dozen people about a proposed plan to develop a new policy for Grays Harbor salmon fisheries. That policy, which will set the direction for resource conservation and catch allocations, is the focus of ongoing public meetings in western Washington. Information about the proposed policy is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/grays_harbor_salmon/ on WDFW’s website.

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Senate Passes Extension of Cantwell-Championed Rural Schools, Roads Program


 

SRS expired at the end of fiscal year 2012, and the last payments went out in December 2012. During 2012, Washington state received about $20 million in SRS program funding to help fund schools, roads, search and rescue, and other important county programs. That was the fourth highest total after Oregon, California and Idaho.

                                                                                                     

“Secure Rural Schools is a lifeline to communities all across Washington state,” said Cantwell. “These payments invest in the schools and roads that are necessary for communities and businesses to thrive. I applaud the Senate for taking bipartisan action to continue this key program for rural communities and look forward to a debate on a long-term extension of the program.”

 

In 2012, counties in Washington state received about $20 million in SRS payments, including: Chelan County, $1.6 million; Grays Harbor County, $400,251; Jefferson County, $953,725; Kittitas County, $680,350; Lewis County, $2,165,436; Skagit County, $639,849; Skamania County, $3.9 million; Snohomish County, $737,202; Whatcom County, $908,504; and Yakima County, $1.4 million. The full list of SRS payments to Washington counties can be found here.


Cantwell has been a leader in pushing for a long-term continuation of SRS. In March during a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee hearing, Cantwell called for an extension of SRS and mandatory full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, while also making them simpler, more transparent, and more responsive to the needs of rural communities.

 

At the hearing, committee members heard testimony from Paul Pearce, president of the National Forest Counties and School Coalition and a former Skamania County Commissioner.

 

“My own county, Skamania County, is a county of 11,000 people,” said Pearce during his opening statement to the committee. “I was the commissioner there until just the beginning of this year. If we were to lose this funding, two of the four school districts will in fact close.”

 

Skamania County was the highest recipient of SRS payments in Washington state in FY 2012, receiving nearly one-fifth of the state’s total SRS payments.

 

In 2012, Cantwell supported an amendment (S. Amdt. 1825) to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (H.R.4348) that extended the SRS payments and mandatory full funding of PILT for one year. She joined 26 other senators in May 2012 in sending a letter to the Senate conferees negotiating a final transportation reauthorization agreement with the House urging the extension of both county payment programs. Cantwell also cosponsored the bipartisan County Payments Reauthorization Act of 2011, which would extend SRS for five years as well as fully fund PILT for five additional years.

 

Under federal law, national forest land cannot be taxed by counties or other state and local jurisdictions. In place of taxes, a 100-year-old U.S. Forest Service policy shares revenue generated by timber harvests on federal lands near forest communities. Funds can be used for schools, roads, search and rescue, and other essential services. As timber harvests declined during the 1990s, hundreds of counties experienced a severe revenue loss. Since 2001, the SRS and PILT programs have helped areas hit hardest by declining timber sales, providing funding for schools and roads in communities nationwide.

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