Nevada Sen. Dean Heller calls for permanent PILT funding
Sen. Dean Heller has called on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to permanently authorize and fully fund the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program.
PILT compensates western states that have a disproportionate percentage of federal land within their borders for the fact that land is non-taxable. There are several counties in Nevada that are well over 90 percent federal land. Nevada as a whole is some 85 percent federally owned.
“Local governments across Nevada are saddled with the responsibility of providing vital public services such as law enforcement and infrastructure maintenance across large swaths of federal land,” he said.
He said funding through PILT pays for those services.
By contrast, President Donald Trump’s initial budget proposals would sharply reduce PILT funding to its average levels over the past decade. since 1997, the firt year of PILT, Nevada has received $439 million.
Nevada received $25,632,826 in 2016 under the PILT program. To equate PILT is to say the government is paying property tax so that school districts educating children of federal employees, for example, receive their per pupil allotment.
Within Nevada, Elko received the largest amount of any county — $3,485,682 — followed by Washoe County at $3,470,890. Churchill County received a little more than $2 million. Several rural counties have 95 percent of their land tied up as federal property.
With the proposed Navy expansion, Churchill County has expressed concerns with PILT money and says the Navy should analyze how the PILT will be affected by any of its proposed alternatives.
Heller, R-Nev., said the program is vitally important to Nevada and he believes it isn’t just a funding program “but an obligation on behalf of the federal government in exchange for the land that they use at a loss to the taxpayer.”
The Nevada senator said because of that, the program should be permanently authorized and he has teamed with a bipartisan group of colleagues to support legislation that would do just that.