The federal Department of the Interior just announced the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes payments for this fiscal year, and 28 percent of Idaho's money is going to counties in the Magic Valley.
The federal government had made these payments to local governments every year since the 1970s on federally owned lands that are not otherwise subject to taxation, and every county in Idaho gets some. Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties are getting a combined $8.46 million out of the $30 million going to Idaho. The overall amount is a slight increase over the $29.4 million Idaho got last year. Payments are based on acreage of federal land.
“As a kid who grew up in northwest Montana and whose sons graduated from the same high school as I did, I know how important PILT payments are to local communities that have federal lands," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was Montana's congressman before President Donald Trump appointed him to his current job, said in a statement. "These investments are one of the ways the federal government is fulfilling its role of being a good land manager and good neighbor to local communities."
About 60 percent of the land in Idaho is owned by the federal government, and PILT payments represent a significant share of the budget in many counties. All told, the federal government is making $464.6 million in payments this year to local governments across the country, an increase over last year's $451.6 million and the most the program has paid out in its history.
PILT was funded this year at levels comparable to last as part of the May omnibus deal that funds the federal government through the end of September. It remains to be seen what happens in the next fiscal year — President Donald Trump's budget blueprint calls for PILT to be funded "at a reduced level, but in line with average funding for PILT over the past decade," which would work out to about $397 million, an almost 15 percent drop.