U.S. Senator Mark Pryor Calls for PILT Funding in Farm Bill

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, along with a bipartisan group of his colleagues, this week called on the Farm Bill conference committee to include funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program in its final conference report. PILT provides federal payments to local governments in order to offset losses in property taxes on nontaxable federal land, and fund critical services such as police, fire protection, and emergency response.

“Many counties in our state with federal land rely on the PILT program to provide necessary services to our families and businesses,” Pryor said. “I hope the Farm Bill conference committee will heed our requests, and include this funding in their report so we can give our counties the certainty they need to support our local communities.”

The full text of the letter is below:

We write to request that the final Farm Bill Conference report include a renewal for the Department of Interior’s Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program.  The PILT program provides critical funding to more than 1,900 counties in 49 states and territories, making up for diminished tax revenues stemming from Federal ownership of land within county boundaries.  Unfortunately the FY 2014 Omnibus spending bill did not include resources for this vital program.

Counties across the country, particularly those containing significant federal landholdings, rely on PILT funds as sizeable percentages of their budgets.  Many of the same rural counties that rely on programs in the Farm Bill also depend on PILT to sustain their economies and serve their citizens.  These dollars help fund essential services like road maintenance, fire departments and emergency medical services.  Without an extension of PILT, rural counties will face drastic budget cuts in June and may struggle to fund the most basic of services.  In fact, some of these counties may be faced with potential insolvency.  The federal government needs to honor the pledge made to our rural counties and fund this program.

We urge you to include a renewal of the PILT program in the final Farm Bill conference report.