Western Local Leaders: Federal Payments for Tax-Exempt Lands Not a 'County Welfare Program'

Route Fifty: WASHINGTON — County government officials from the western U.S. met with congressional lawmakers last week to press for funding for two programs that provide payments to counties with tax-exempt tracts of federal land.

Payments in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools provide significant support for some county budgets, particularly in the West. County leaders say if the programs are shortchanged, it could undermine services like road maintenance, education and policing.

“PILT and SRS are an essential part of the federal government's responsibility to the western counties especially,” Jim French, a commissioner in Humboldt County, Nevada, said Friday by phone, using common abbreviations for the two programs.

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