Mesa County receives biggest PILT check in Colorado

Mesa County will receive nearly $3.4 million as payment in lieu of taxes on more than 1.5 million acres of federal property in the county.

The payment is the largest to any Colorado county for the 2014 fiscal year and accounts for nearly 10 percent of the more than $34.5 million in so-called PILT payments distributed statewide.

Nationwide, a total of $436.9 million in payments were allocated to nearly 1,900 government jurisdictions, a record amount for the program.

The payments are the last under a federal law enacted to authorize full payments for 2014. The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2015 extends full funding for another year while long-term funding is developed for the program.

The PILT program compensates counties for nontaxable federal lands, including those managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service. Payments are based on the acreage of federal lands and population within a county. The program is designed to assist local governments in funding services and infrastructure.

Funding for the PILT program comes from revenues the U.S. Department of Interior collects from commercial activities on federal lands, including energy development, livestock grazing and timber harvests.

The combined acreage of federal lands in Mesa County is third in Colorado behind Moffat County with nearly 1.7 million acres and Gunnison County with 1.6 million acres.

The 2014 PILT payment to Mesa County is slightly higher than the more than $3.1 million the county received in 2013 and more than double the 2012 payment of nearly $1.6 million.

Garfield County, with nearly 1.2 million acres of federal lands, will receive slightly more than $3 million in its PILT payment for the 2014 fiscal year. Montrose County, with nearly 978,000 acres of federal lands, will receive almost $2.3 million. Despite having nearly 1.5 million acres of federal lands, the less-populated Rio Blanco County will receive about $540,000. With almost 416,000 acres of federal lands, Delta County will receive about $165,000.