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Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo, Jim Risch Want Reliable Federal Funding For Counties

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Idaho’s U.S. senators are signing onto a bill that would keep federal dollars flowing to counties for the next 10 years.

PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, is a program that’s been around for more than 40 years. It gives counties cash to help offset budget costs since they can’t tax federal lands within their borders, but the program has generally been budgeted year-to-year.

Idaho Senators Mike Crapo (R) and Jim Risch (R) are co-sponsoring a bill that would extend that funding through 2029.

More than 63% of Idaho is made up of federal lands. At the extreme end, 90% of land in Lemhi County is federal, for example.

“They don’t have a tax base, and as a result of that, it really impedes their ability to provide services,” said Seth Grigg with the Idaho Association of Counties.

Grigg says his members use that money to maintain vast networks of roads and run emergency search and rescue operations, among other needs.

“They simply would not have the revenues they need to operate, and their taxpayers would not be able to afford the taxes that it would require to provide services in that big of a geographic area.”

He says 10 years of guaranteed funding would give these counties certainty when they’re building their budgets.

The bill, written by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D), is also being co-sponsored by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R).

Here’s how much Mountain West states took in during Fiscal Year 2019:

Idaho: $32.3 million

Colorado: $40 million

Utah: $40.1 million

Wyoming: $30.2 million

Nevada: $27.2 million

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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