Federal funds that can be used for the local construction of schools and roads will soon be coming out of Washington.
The Department of the Interior has announced that it is releasing Payments in Lieu of Taxes funding equal to nearly $515 million.
Those payments are annually sent to local governments across the country to make up for the lost revenue they endure by not being able to tax federal property existing in their communities.
“These payments are one example of the United States striving to be a good neighbor to local communities,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in a statement announcing the payments.
Bernhardt noted that this year those payments will be sent to more than 1,900 individual counties and will fund everything from emergency response programs to “public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure.”
The payments are particularly important for counties in the Western states where vast stretches of land are owned by the federal government.
The payment program, which began under President Jimmy Carter, is based on a county’s population and the overall number of acres owned by Washington in that county.
Getting the money to Washington has never been an issue: on an annual basis, the Department of the Interior collects nearly $12 billion in revenue from any commercial activity on land that it and several other federal agencies own in any given county.
Such activity typically includes oil and gas exploration and timber harvesting.
This year Arizona will receive just over $38.7 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes funding. Colorado is set to get $39.9 million, while New Mexico is slated for $40.2 million.
By Garry Boulard
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