HELENA, MT – Secretary Zinke to Visit with Local Officials in BillingsPayment in Lieu of Taxes to be DiscussedHELENA, MT – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be meeting with local Montana officials on June 27th to talk about the payment in lieu of taxes program (PILT). The group, which will include Montana County Commissioners, Billings Mayor and City Council Members, and Representation from Montana’s Congressional Offices, will convene at 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. in room 3108 of the Stillwater Building in downtown Billings (316 N. 26th Street). “We are honored to host Montana’s first cabinet member, Secretary Zinke, and look forward to the discussion,” said Yellowstone County Commissioner, John Ostlund.Montana Association of Counties (MACo) President, Lake County Commissioner and former Sheriff, Bill Barron, is pleased that Secretary Zinke has decided to come to Montana regarding the program. “PILT for our state is crucial in providing essential services like public safety to the citizens,” said Barron.
“This program is indispensable to Montana and our rural communities.”Montana is comprised of almost 30% PILT-entitled federal lands, approximately 27,395,732 acres (Fiscal Year 2017). MACo Past President and Public Lands Committee Member, Prairie County Commissioner, Todd Devlin, said “Public land access is vitally important in Montana to support the multiple-use policy of the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI). PILT paid to counties for tax exempt federal lands is a major revenue source of funding for local governments to maintain roads and keep access to federal lands, which is imperative for both recreation and business on federal lands managed by DOI.”
Commissioner Devlin is also a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Federal Lands Payment Subcommittee of the Public Lands Steering Committee.PILT was fully funded for FY 2018 at $530 million, an historic level, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed by President Trump on March 23rd. The payments are being prepared for release prior to July 1st.According to DOI, “PILT are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries.
The payments are made annually for tax-exempt Federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (all agencies of the Interior Department), the U.S. Forest Service (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and for Federal water projects and some military installations. PILT payments are one of the ways the Federal Government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities.”