Most impacted WA counties include: Chelan, Clallam, Grant, Jefferson, Kittitas, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom
(Washington, D.C.) –Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell urging the inclusion of Payment In Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools payments to counties in legislation moving at the end of the year. These funds go to emergency services, police, health, schools, prison facilities, and more and frequently play an important role in the budgets of counties with public lands within their boundaries. In 2014, Washington state counties received just over $19 million from PILT and approximately $21.5 million from SRS.
“Though many families in Washington state have never heard of the PILT or SRS programs, they serve as a lifeline for dozens of rural communities in our state and across the country,” Senator Murray said. “From funding local police forces to supporting public schools, these programs are vital to counties impacted by non-taxable federal land, so I will continue working to ensure the PILT and SRS programs are renewed in any legislation passed by Congress before the year’s end.”
FY14 PILT payments broken down by county can be found here.
Counties benefitting significantly from the PILT program include: Chelan, Clallam, Grant, Jefferson, Kittitas, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom.
Full text of the letter below:
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
We write to request that full funding of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) program be included in any end-of-year legislation likely to pass in the Senate and House. We greatly appreciate your attention to these programs in previous years and would welcome the opportunity to work with you to ensure that a solution for at least Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) is in place before the end of the 113th Congress.
The PILT program provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties in 49 states and 3 U.S. territories. It was created in 1976 to help offset losses to local governments from the presence of non-taxable federal lands. Property taxes fund county governments allowing them to provide essential services such as law enforcement, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, education, and health services for local communities. A fully-funded PILT program helps to ensure that counties that house federal lands can continue to provide these essential services.
The SRS program reaches over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools located near national forests throughout the country. SRS payments support public schools, public roads, forest health projects, and other county projects. Along with PILT, rural counties rely heavily on SRS to help provide essential services to residents.
Moving forward, we hope that we can work together to seek a long-term solution to provide a consistent and stable source of funding for the nation’s counties containing federal lands. As we approach the end of the 113th Congress, however, we urge you to consider the economic hardship and uncertainty that these counties will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding. In supporting the PILT and SRS programs, we have the opportunity to fulfill the federal government’s obligation to local communities with large amounts of federal land. We look forward to working with you to resolve this pressing issue facing our communities in FY15 and in the coming years.