Daines sponsors bicameral, bipartisan bill to change federal funding formula for counties

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) on July 11 introduced a bicameral, bipartisan bill to ensure counties around the nation receive their fair share of federal payment in lieu of taxes compensation.

Sen. Daines sponsored the Small County Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Parity Act, S. 2108, with cosponsors including U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to provide for additional population tiers that would better balance how the federal government pays PILT funds to a county government to offset the loss of property taxes from federally owned lands in that county.

“Far too often our rural communities are pushed aside and not given the resources they need,” Sen. 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.”

The same-named H.R. 3716 also was introduced on July 11 by U.S. Reps. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

According to a bill summary provided by Sen. Daines’ office, county governments use PILT funds to pay for county public services, including school construction, roads, law enforcement, and emergency services.

The current PILT formula increases per capita funding as population decreases but retains the funding amounts when a county’s population is less than 5,000, which the lawmakers say puts lower-population counties at a disadvantage.

The proposed measure would modify the formula to increase funding to counties having less than 5,000 residents without reducing the funding for other counties, according to a bill summary from Sen. Daines’ office, which noted that the change could benefit nine counties in the senator’s home state of Montana.

The Montana Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties last week endorsed the bill, which has been referred to both the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee for consideration.