PILT funding add-on to Farm Bill may pay off for Moffat County

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Compromises on the Farm Bill could mean good news for Moffat County’s budget.

The Farm Bill is expected to pass the U.S. House and Senate.

PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) funding was attached to the United States Farm Bill as part of compromises to move the legislation forward, much to the relief of Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe.

“We knew it was being connected to the Farm Bill but we weren’t 100 percent sure it would,” he said. “It was a compromised agreement, so there’s a 99 percent chance" it will pass.

PILT monies compensate counties for the federal land within their limits. Public lands cannot be taxed, so the federal government pays PILT so counties can maintain the infrastructure on those lands.

“We have to keep the roads up through these fed lands,” Grobe said. “But we don’t get any income to maintain the roads. So (PILT funding) is in lieu of taxes.”

Moffat County receives about $550,000 in PILT money in 2013, although that number varies year to year. That money goes directly to the Road and Bridge Department.

PILT funding is about 9 percent of the Road and Bridge Department’s budget, said Mindy Curtis, director of Moffat County’s Finance Department.

The problem with PILT, Grobe said, is that the formula changes each year so counties have to guess when budgeting.

“You try to budget conservatively but you still have to make sure you have some money in reserves for the fund balance in case you have issues like this,” Curtis said.

Congress usually attaches PILT to the budget, but the omnibus legislation was passed without PILT. This caused some anxiety for counties that depend on the funds. It’s been passed on a year to year basis, but Grobe said he wants something more permanent.

PILT “is only for one year. The Farm Bill is for five,” Grobe said. “We’re going to be up against this again next year. There’s moves to make PILT a permanent thing where we don’t have to go back and begging every year for funding.”

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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