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County will see about $3.77 million in PILT payments

| July 10, 2024 6:50 AM


By HEIDI DESCH and MATT BALDWIN for the Hungry Horse News

Flathead County will take in $3.77 million in federal payments this year under a program that compensates local governments for nontaxable federal land.

Montana’s portion of the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) payout totaled $43.3 million. With 2.4 million acres of federal land, Flathead County’s slice is the largest in the state. Last year, $3.4 million was distributed to Flathead County. 

In fiscal year 2024, the county allocated $500,000 to Road Department operations and placed $1 million in savings for a future Detention Center project and set aside $250,000 for a future Kalispell library.  

The preliminary budget for fiscal year 2025 shows the same amounts for roads and the jail, and another $125,000 set aside to be used as a match for any funds raised by the Flathead County Library for a new Kalispell branch. County commissioners in August will approve the final budget.  

Ravalli County took in the second most in Montana PILT payments at $3.3 million, followed by Lewis and Clark County at $3.2 million. In Northwest Montana, Sanders County gets $923,265, Lincoln County gets $837,713 and Lake County will be paid $558,526. 

Established in 1976, PILT payments are intended to assist local governments offset losses in property taxes due to the existence of nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries. The funding can be used for public services, such as firefighting or police protection, construction of public schools and roads, or search-and-rescue operations. 

The formula used to compute the payments is based on population, revenue-sharing payments and the amount of federal land within a county. Each county’s acreage is based on lands administered by Department of the Interior agencies and the U.S. Forest Service. 

Since 1977, the program has distributed nearly $12 billion in PILT payments.