Grand County shares federal funds with school districts
February 1, 2009
West and East Grand school districts will be celebrating significant budget boosts from federal forest funds distributed to Grand County.
Grand County Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday to distribute $818,944 among West and East Grand schools and Grand County’s road and bridge department.
The money is from two waning programs, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, or SRS, both of which were resuscitated at the time of the Congress-approved $700 billion bailout package in October.
PILT and SRS provide federal finances to counties with substantial federal forest lands. For many counties, such as Grand County, the federal payments can be a significant part of annual budgets.
But the programs suffered severe cuts in recent years and their future was shaky at best until legislators merged their survival with the bailout.
The recent federal action allows 43 Colorado counties and many in other states the ability to receive full funding under PILT and much larger payments under SRS.
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Grand County’s payment came in higher than expected.
With it, East Grand will receive $241,031 and West Grand will receive $86,546. Grand County Road and Bridge will get $491,366.
County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran pointed out that although the county is required by law to give schools 5 percent of the funds, it elects to distribute 40 percent to the two school districts.
SRS helps to fund rural schools and county road and bridge departments. The federal payments from both SRS and PILT help governments offset costs associated with having public lands in their jurisdictions, such as keeping up roads impacted by visitation to public lands and providing first responders to emergencies that take place in federal areas.
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