Cub River view

Forest lands, like these in Franklin County, generate funding for the federal government, a portion of which are sent back to the county. Franklin county has 139,442 acres of federally owned land.

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Franklin County is receiving $312,532 in lieu of taxes (PILT) this year, due to the 139,442 acres of public land within its borders.

PILT payments are made annually for tax-exempt federal lands administered by U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) agencies including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), for lands administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS); and for Federal water projects and some military installations.

DOI collects more than $13.2 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues is shared with States and counties. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of Federal activities, including PILT funding.

The payment is a drop in the bucket of the Franklin County annual budget, which is $12,103,901 this year, said county clerk, Camille Larsen. The county uses those funds to cover what local levies don’t in its justice fund (prosecuting attorney, sheriff, dispatch, juvenile services) and current expense fund (assessors, clerks, treasurers, p&Z, building fund, etc.).

The amount differs every year. In 2019 the county received $296,297. In 2010 it received $162,291. In 2000, the county received $96,055.

“This year’s distribution of $514.7 million to more than 1,900 counties will help small towns pay for critical needs like emergency response, public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure,” said Bernhardt.

“The federal government owns two out of every three acres in Idaho, significantly limiting the revenue available to counties to provide vital services for their residents,” said U.S. Senator Jim Risch (ID). In Franklin County, that ratio is one out of every three acres.

“I applaud the Trump Administration and Secretary Bernhardt for distributing PILT payments for fiscal year 2020. During these unprecedented times, it is a testament to their prioritization of rural communities. As a member of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee, and former chairman, I have made securing PILT funding my top priority and will continue to advocate for fully funding PILT so they can be fairly compensated for their inability to collect property taxes on federal lands,” said U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (ID-02).

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