County Unsure About Future of Program
BY MELANIE BUCK –
After wondering for months whether the County would receive a PILT payment this year, Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison has announced that the County was granted PILT money around June 30, right at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. PILT is a ‘payment in lieu of taxes’ that is sometimes paid to city or county governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable Federal lands within their boundaries.
In January 2015, Ellison conveyed that there is a large amount of federal land inside Polk County’s borders. Manpower from the county is used for maintaining roads, law enforcement, etc., on federal land, however, no property tax is paid, nor is it used for commerce. “We usually get a payment but because of the federal government issues with a budget, it’s not guaranteed. This makes planning our budget very difficult. My goal is to pester enough people, along with several other rural counties, to get it permanently funded,” explained Ellison. Permanent funding has not been approved at this time.
“We did receive $340,000 in PILT on or about June 30. We will start putting the 2016 county budget together in October,” explained Ellison. “We use PILT to operate the budgets inside of the general account. Because it appears we will have a decent amount of carryover balance and if there are no requests for increased individual budgets, we should be able to make budget ok as of right now.”
He also explained that even though the County was able to receive PILT this year, they are unsure about next year, or any year after. It’s become increasingly more difficult to know whether the federal government will be able to continue paying PILT. “We will not know again if we will receive PILT in 2016 and if we do how much it will be. I believe it would be unwise to assume that the PILT money will be available in June of 2016,” said Ellison.