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County receives $1.94M from feds

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The payments are part of a record $464.6 million dollars distributed across the country, this year; it's the largest amount allocated in the PILT program's 40-year history.

PILT funding provides local governments with funding they can't get from tax-exempt federal lands within their boundaries.

$37 million in so-called PILT payments for the 2017 fiscal year in the state. PILT payments help local governments carry out such vital services as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations. For 2017 the Department of the Interior added about 202 additional federal acres and awarded Teton County about $26,000 more.

OR will receive a total of $19.7 million in Payments In Lieu of Taxes - also known as "PILT" - from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

According to the Department of the Interior, which administers the PILT program, annual PILT payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county and the population of that county.

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The Interior Department collects more than $8.8 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. Idaho was a top contender for the money, with more than 60 percent of the state's land being public.

The increase is "absolutely" welcome in Mesa County, which is expecting to dip into reserves this year, County Administrator Frank Whidden said.

"Senator Steve Daines also commented on the funds, saying in a news release, "... the PILT program provides critical support for the safety of Montana's rural counties.

Despite having nearly 1.5 million acres of federal lands, the less populated Rio Blanco County will receive about $553,000.

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