US government may end delays in paying counties for land

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VAIL | A proposal in Congress could end federal delays in paying counties the money they are owed for public land by extending funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools programs.

A bill by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., would extend critical funding for the programs and reauthorize each program for the next five fiscal years. It would also make Payment in Lieu of Taxes mandatory, removing it from the annual appropriations process.

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., also urged federal action to pay counties the money they’re owed.

Congress provided about $285 million in Forest Service authorized funding for Secure Rural Schools for two years that will benefit 41 states and Puerto Rico in support of local schools and roads and for other purposes.

The Payment In Lieu of Taxes Program compensates states that have large amounts of federal land for the loss of revenue because those states are unable to collect property taxes on the land.

Polis said the programs are essential lifelines for rural communities in Colorado, the Vail Daily reported (https://tinyurl.com/owdqpzn).

“This bill gives county officials the certainty they need to provide basic services for their communities, like police and fire protection, instead of holding these services victim to the whims and constant brinksmanship of Congress,” Polis said.