U.S. Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) is asking for support to increase funding of the Pay-ments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
Since its inception in 1976, PILT has aided western states with funding for lost tax-exempt land. New Mexico is the second-highest benefactor in the nation of PILT payments because of the considerable presence of the federal government in the state.
Valencia County Manager James Fernández said “the county only receives about $37,000 from PILT. Any additional money is always appreciated. We have very little federal land in Valencia County. Most is forest land.”
A graph from Udall’s office shows Valencia County with 35,885 acres of federal land.
Valencia County received more PILT funds when parts of Cibola County were within Valencia County, Fernández said.
In 1981, that acreage went into Cibola, which now has 787,731 acres of federal land.
Udall is asking for the continued efforts of the House Chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior, Rep. Joe Skeen (R-N.M.) to restore federal funding of the PILT program,
The President’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2003 requests only $165 million for PILT during the next fiscal year. That amount is considerably less than the $210 million Congress provided during the current fiscal year and $35 million less than what was appropriated the year before.
This means that if these funds are cut, local New Mexicans will be forced to pay higher property taxes. Last year, 32 counties in New Mexico received $18 million under the program.
In a press release from Udall’s office, he says “When the President or Congress shortchanges PILT, rural areas suffer. Joe Skeen has been a champion of PILT in the House and has worked to restore the program’s funding level over the years. Despite the proposed cuts in the Bush Administration’s budget, I believe PILT’s funding level will be restored in a bipartisan manner.”
PILT supplies New Mexico’s tax-exempt federal lands with funds for services such as the administered land that the Park Service, Forest Service, BLM, and Army Corps of Engineers oversee.
“The county only receives about $37,000 from PILT. Any additional money is always appreciated. We have very little federal land in Valencia County. Most is forest land.”