Rural counties want Congress to fund in lieu of tax payments

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By Sterling Randle

While many counties Utah prepared a budget for 2014, some counties might have to crunch their numbers again because it’s uncertain whether the federal government will pony up for untaxed federal land. Rural lawmakers are sending a message to Washington.

Of Wayne County’s land,  98.26 percent is on federal land. This means only 1.74 percent of the land can be taxed by the state. In comparison, the state can tax 80.68% of Salt Lake County.  To make up the difference in a state’s inability to tax land owned by the federal government, Payments in Lieu of Taxes, PILT,  are appropriated by Congress.

Each year Congress reissues these payments. So far, however, no payments have been issued for 2014. Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 (SCR6) would petition Congress to authorize Payments in Lieu of Taxes for years to come, including the current year, 2014.

“Both houses and the governor [are] calling on Congress to fully fund [Payments in Lieu of Taxes]. For our large, rural counties who have a lot of [land owned by the Federal Government] it’s huge. It’s their budget,” Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said.

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