Havre Weekly Chronicle: Montana receives $43.3 million in PILT to support vital services in communities

Program provides funds to communities that are supporting the nation’s public lands, waters; invests in firefighters, police, schools, road construction

The Department of the Interior today announced that 56 local governments in Montana will receive a total of $43.3 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes funding for 2024. Because local governments cannot tax Federal lands, annual PILT payments help to defray the costs associated with maintaining important community services. 

A release from U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., lists the Montana payments, which included $1,258,897 for Blaine County, $483,587 for Chouteau County, $154,935 for Hill County and $100,224 for Liberty County

PILT payments are made for tax-exempt federal lands administered by the Department’s bureaus including the Bureau of Land ManagementBureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, PILT payments cover federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission. Payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction. 

Since PILT payments began in 1977, the Department has distributed nearly $12 billion to states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The Department collects more than $22.2 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands. A portion of those revenues is shared with states and counties. The balance is deposited into the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of federal activities, including PILT funding. 

Individual payments may vary from year to year as a result of changes in acreage data, which are updated annually by the federal agency administering the land; prior-year federal revenue-sharing payments reported annually by the governor of each state; and inflationary adjustments using the Consumer Price Index and population data, which are updated using information from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

A full list of funding by state and county is available on the Department’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes page at https://www.doi.gov/pilt .