Rural Colorado communities face cuts in federal program

10:29 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA -County sheriffs and local emergency responders are usually the first on scene when there is an accident on federal land. But some local governments are not reimbursed for their services - and they don't collect property taxes for federal land.

The intent of The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program was to offset those types of losses by providing federal money to local governments that have large tracts of federal land within their jurisdictions.

However, last week Congress passed a budget bill that stops funding for the programs. Senator Michael Bennet met with county commissioners from all over Colorado on Monday to find out how the communities would be affected.

"This so-called PILT money it's called was basically taken in the middle of the night by people on the east coast and the west coast who are not paying attention to the needs of our western communities,," Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet said. "We need to try to get that money restored."

"Even though they come from very different communities, very different political parties, very different points of view, they absolutely share in common my view on this - which is that the United States Congress should restore this money that it's taken from the budget."

"This money is not a subsidy to Colorado or to western states," Bennet said. "The reason why we are paid this money is that...we host a lot of public land in our state that's land that we can't tax. It's land that we can't raise property taxes on."

In 2013 Colorado received $32 million in PILT payments. Approximately 70 percent of western Colorado is owned by the federal government.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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