Trump budget would slash the federal revenues
By Ann McCreary
Okanogan County will receive $2.4 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), which are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal land within their boundaries.
The payments are made annually for tax-exempt federal lands, which include Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Forest Service and federal water projects and some military installations.
In Washington state, 37 local governments will receive $21.3 million in PILT funding in 2017. PILT payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of the county or jurisdiction.
Okanogan County has 1,564,376 acres of federal land, the highest amount of federal land of all the counties in Washington that receive PILT payments. The county with the next-highest amount of federal lands is Chelan, with 1,486,332 acres.
However Chelan County’s payment of $2.8 million was the highest in the state, and about $400,000 more than Okanogan County’s. Okanogan County received about $20,000 more in PILT payments in 2017 compared to 2016.
Following an announcement about the PILT payments by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, criticized the Trump administration for proposing to cut PILT payments.
The administration’s budget proposal for next year cuts PILT funding by $68 million, or 15 percent, Cantwell said.
“We cannot let this lifeline to rural counties disappear,” Cantwell said. “Many counties in Washington rely on this federal support. I will continue to fight for funding for this program because it is so vital to our communities.”
PILT payments help local governments fund services such as police and fire protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations.