RBC | Since 1977 the federal government has compensated local governments that contain non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries as a way to make up for lost property taxes on those acres under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
Fifty-six local governments in Colorado will receive a total of $40.1 million in 2018, marking the largest amount ever allocated in the program’s history. Rio Blanco County’s share for 2018 is $569,036.
The formula for divvying up the funds within each jurisdiction—set by statute—is based on the number of acres of federal land (National Forest, National Park System, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management, etc.) and the population of the jurisdiction.
“Having more than 70 percent public lands, communities throughout Western Colorado depend on vitally important PILT funds to help support essential services like P-12 education, search and rescue services, public safety, and road maintenance projects,” said Executive Director of CLUB 20 Christian Reece in a U.S. Department of the Interior press release. “PILT funds allow Western Colorado communities to remain economically competitive with their neighbors and help to increase the quality of life for all Western Colorado residents.”
The funds come from annual revenue collected from commercial activities on public lands such as oil and gas leases, livestock grazing and timber harvesting.