Mesa County to receive $4 million in latest payment in lieu of taxes

Mesa County will receive more than $4 million in the latest payment in lieu of taxes on federal lands in the county.

The payment is once again the single largest to a Colorado county out of more than $45.5 million in so-called PILT payments in the state for the 2023 fiscal year. 

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Interior will distribute a total of almost  $550 million under the program.

“PILT payments help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads and search and rescue operations,” said Joan Mooney, principal deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the Department of Interior.

“We are grateful for our ongoing partnerships with local jurisdictions across the country who help the Interior Department fulfill our mission on behalf of the American public,” Mooney said.

The PILT program compensates local government entities for revenues from nontaxable federal lands, including those administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and National Park Service. Payments are based on the acreage of federal land and population within a county. Since the program began in 1977, the Department of the Interior has distributed nearly $11.4 billion.

Funding comes from the more than $26.3 billion in annual revenue the Department of the Interior collects from commercial activities on federal lands, including energy development, livestock grazing and timber harvests.

The payment to Mesa County for the 2023 fiscal year tops the 2022 payment by about $230,000 or more than 5 percent.

The payment is based on the nearly 1.56 million acres of federal lands in the county. The combined acreage of federal lands in Mesa County is third in Colorado behind only Moffat County with 1.67 million acres and Gunnison County with more than 1.63 million acres.

The PILT payment is higher for Mesa County than other counties, though, because of its larger population. Moffat County will receive a payment of nearly $989,000. Gunnison County will receive almost $1.6 million.

With nearly 1.2 million acres of federal lands, Garfield County will receive the second largest PILT payment in Colorado of more than $3.7 million.

Montrose County will receive more than $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 almost $674,000. Delta County will receive nearly $949,000 for more than 400,000 acres.

Among the states, Colorado ranks third for the highest PILT payments. New Mexico received the highest payment at nearly $46.7 million, while Utah received more than $46.2 million.