Mesa County gets $3.4 million PILT check

Mesa County receives nearly $3.4 million in the latest payment in lieu of taxes on more than 1.5 million acres of public land.

The payment is the single largest to a Colorado county out of a total of almost $35.6 million in so-called PILT payments for the 2016 fiscal year in the state. Nationwide, a total of almost $452 million will be distributed to 1,900 local government entities.

“These investments often serve as a lifeline for local communities as they juggle planning and paying for basic services like public safety, housing, social services and transportation,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The PILT program compensates local government entities for revenues from nontaxable federal lands, including those administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service. Payments are based on the acreage of federal land and population within a county.

Funding for the PILT program comes from the
$11 billion in annual revenues the Department of Interior collects from commercial activities on federal lands, including energy development, livestock grazing and timber harvests. Congress appropriated $451.6 million for the PILT program for the 2016 fiscal year program. President Barack Obama has included in his proposed 2017 fiscal year budget full funding of $480 million for the PILT program

The combined acreage of federal lands in Mesa County is third in Colorado behind only Moffat County with nearly 1.7 million acres and Gunnison County with more than 1.6 million acres. The PILT payment is higher for Mesa County than the other counties, though, because of the larger population.

With nearly 1.2 million acres of federal lands, Garfield County will receive the second largest PILT payment in Colorado for the 2015 fiscal year of more than $3 million. Montrose County will receive more than $2.3 million in payment in lieu of taxes on nearly 1 million acres of federal land.

Despite having almost 1.5 million acres of federal lands, the less populated Rio Blanco County will receive about $545,00. Delta County will receive almost $578,000 for more than 400,000 acres.