Grand receives $972K in PILT payment |

Grand receives $972K in PILT payment

Tonya Bina

Colorado’s rural communities are receiving funds to help boost road and bridge, education and emergency response budgets thanks to a federal program that nearly went extinct before being revived.

A Payment in Lieu of Taxes program tacked onto the 2014 Federal Farm Bill is providing funds to 56 out of Colorado’s 64 counties, a total of $35 million.

Grand County receives $972,000, the 13th largest payment in the state for the county’s 796,000 acres of federal land.

The payments are calculated based on population and total acreage of public lands.

Grand County typically uses payments in lieu of taxes for its road and bridge budget and capital improvements.

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) heralded the U.S. Department of the Interior’s release of the funds to Colorado on June 16. In statements, the senators said they were part of the effort in getting the program extended for one year in the Farm Bill and continue to search ways in ending uncertainty of the program.

“Communities throughout Colorado count on the PILT program to support schools and other essential services,” said Udall. “However, Colorado needs a long-term solution to permanently fund the PILT program to avoid the perennial uncertainty of the federal budgeting process. I am committed to continuing to fight for rural Colorado and getting this done.”

Legislators left out PILT payment renewals in the 2014 omnibus bill, putting future funding in limbo. Senators took up the cause to add the funding to the farm bill, which for a while sat in Congressional gridlock.

States received the full-authorized amount of the 2014 PILT program in contrast to 2013 when sequestration affected payments down to 94.8 percent of the authorized amount. As a result, Colorado is receiving 2.54 million more than last year.

Colorado receives the fifth largest amount of the total $437 million being doled out to eligible states, with California receiving the most at $45.3 million, followed by Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

“We are excited about the announcement of this year’s funds,” said Bennet, in statements. “Now we need a long-term solution for PILT funding. Our local leaders shouldn’t be forced into wondering from year to year if they will receive the payments the federal government owes them.”

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