In a letter signed by 16 senators and himself, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi has asked the federal Committee on Appropriations to continue funding the Payments in Lieu of Taxes – or PILT - program. The program contributes money to counties with federal lands within their borders. The payments help make up for what counties lose by not being able to collect taxes on those lands.
Natrona County received over $3 million dollars last year in PILT money. Chairman of the Natrona County Commissioners, Bill McDowell, says that makes up about 8-percent of the county’s revenues. McDowell says the county has worked to reduce its budget in case PILT money doesn’t come through, but that long-term, the money is important.
“When we look at the budget we could survive without any major overhaul of government for about 5 years. We could eat into the cash reserve we have and slowly make changes. And hopefully during that period of time the recognition of PILT coming into the counties would be more widely recognized as important,” says McDowell.
Wyoming received over $24 million dollars in PILT money last fiscal year. The federal budget has a placeholder for PILT funds, but it’s up to the appropriations committee to fund the program.