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Struggling Montana county sends feds a bill for $445K

Montana Flag, State Funds, Money

A financially struggling western Montana county that is 82 percent U.S. Forest Service land is sending the government a $445,000 tax bill.

Mineral County officials wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saying the government has failed its obligation to the county where it manages 1,000 square miles (2,600 square kilometers) of land.

The Missoulian reports less than 8 percent of Mineral County's land is in private, taxable ownership.

The federal government has previously paid the county with logging proceeds, payments in lieu of taxes and the Secure Rural Schools Act. The government has gone back to payments based on logging proceeds, but officials say that provided only $66,000 due to minimal timber sales.

The county has trouble retaining employees due to low wages and the jail was closed for a time this winter due to a lack of officers.

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