WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte yesterday introduced the bipartisan Small County Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Parity Act.
“Far too often our rural communities are pushed aside and not given the resources they need,”Senator Daines said. “These PILT payments deliver critical services to folks in rural Montana, and I’m glad to introduce this important legislation to increase those resources in Montana’s small counties.”
“In Montana, 55 of our 56 counties receive PILT funding. As the largest landowner in our state, the federal government must keep its commitment to our communities and make them whole,” Congressman Gianforte said. “The existing PILT formula punishes many of Montana’s smaller counties, and our bipartisan legislation ensures Montana counties get their fair share of PILT payments.”
The federal government pays PILT funds to a county government to offset the loss of property taxes from federally owned lands in that county. County governments use PILT funds to pay for vital county public services, including school construction, roads, law enforcement, and emergency services. Based on the current PILT formula, per capita funding increases as population decreases. The funding remains unchanged, however, when a county’s population is less than 5,000, putting lower-population counties at a disadvantage.
The Small County PILT Parity Act will modify the current formula to increase the amount of funding counties with fewer than 5,000 people can receive without reducing the funding of other counties. Nine counties in Montana stand to benefit from this change.
Montana leaders welcomed Gianforte and Daines’ bill to reform PILT.
“We thank Congressman Gianforte and Senator Daines for their efforts to fix PILT for very small counties. The PILT program is vitally important for large and small counties across Montana,” said Jim Hart, president of the Montana Association of Counties and a commissioner of Madison County.
“I appreciate the introduction of the Small County PILT Parity Act. This bill will level the playing field for very rural counties and help them provide public services their residents need. I want to thank Congressman Gianforte and Senator Daines for their work on this issue,” said Todd Devlin, former president of the Montana Association of Counties and a commissioner of Prairie County.
The National Association of Counties also offered support for the Small County PILT Parity Act. “It will put rural communities in a better place,” Matthew D. Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties, wrote in a letter to Gianforte. “Counties appreciate your effort to ensure rural counties receive their fair share of PILT payments.” Chase’s letter may be found HERE.
Gianforte and Daines introduced the Small County PILT Parity Act with Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).