Forty-eight million dollars in yearly checks to Montana’s counties would be lost if state legislators are successful in transferring federally owned land in Montana to state ownership. However, there’s something no one has mentioned -- the impact to taxpayers and local county governments.
In 2014, Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds to Montana totaled $28 million. If a county has National Forest or BLM lands, the federal government sends PILT payments to local county governments to offset losses in residential property taxes. These funds are used to provide services to county residents.
In 2014, Secure Rural Schools (SRS) monies totaled $20 million to Montana. SRS funds are federal dollars used to offset timber revenues. These funds are given to counties to support local roads and schools.
The only way Montana could make up for these payments is to sell off federal lands to the highest bidders and privatize our public lands for a one-time payment. Local county governments would lose critical funds, and ultimately roads and services would deteriorate while taxes would increase to offset the loss in federal dollars.
Tell your local representative to do what’s right for Montana and keep federal lands under federal ownership.