Feds release PILT money to Montana counties


HAMILTON, Mont. - The federal government has released $31 million in payment in lieu of taxes to Montana counties with public land.

In Montana 55 of our 56 counties qualify.

PILT provides money to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands. More than 73 percent of Ravalli County's land mass is made up of federal ground.

The Bitterroot used to receive significant revenue from timber receipts when the logging industry was stronger.

The federal government released $2.375 million in PILT money to Ravalli County. That's $138,000 more than last year.

"Those payments in lieu of taxes are critical for the survival of western rural counties to provide services to their citizens," said Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, "and to recognize the limitations of their tax base by the federal lands in our county and to provide public safety and protection for those who are visiting those public lands."

Chilcott said despite a raise in PILT money to Ravalli County over the last year the budget is still tight.

He said Ravalli County is still short about from a lack of federal money for roads and schools.

Other significant PILT distributions include:

Flathead County at about $2.6 million Gallatin County at about $1.7 million Missoula County at almost $1.8 million