- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) - Bonner County commissioners in northern Idaho want Congress to approve a federal program that compensates rural counties for federal lands they can’t tax.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports (https://bit.ly/1z8Dllc) in a story on Sunday that commissioners joined the National Association of Counties in asking that lawmakers approve the program known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT.

About 1,900 local governments - mostly in the West - receive about $437 million. Legislation awaiting approval for 2015 would provide $442 million in PILT money.

“Without swift congressional action, our county and communities across the country could face devastating budget shortfalls or tax increases to support mandated county services,” commissioners Cary Kelly, Mike Nielsen and Glen Bailey said in a statement.

About 43 percent of Bonner County is comprised of federal land. Statewide, about 65 percent of Idaho is federal land.

In 2014, Bonner County received about $630,000 in PILT funding, and another $415,000 from a program called Secure Rural Schools.

“Without PILT and SRS funding, counties and local property owners would be burdened with funding vital public services related to federal public lands beyond the means of the local property tax base,” the commissioners said.

The commissioners are asking Idaho’s Congressional delegation to help secure the PILT program.

“Our county provides ongoing services for federal public lands, and members of Congress must support these services,” the commissioners said.

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Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, https://www.bonnercountydailybee.com


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