Payment in lieu of taxes & secure rural schools

Just over half of the land area of District 1 is federal public land. In counties such as ours, with a high percentage of federal land, local governments struggle to obtain enough revenue through property taxes to run schools and county services. Counties provide critical services to federal lands, like search and rescue, firefighting, and law enforcement. Not only is it unfair that counties must bear the burden of this expense without an ability to raise revenue, these demands stretch counties thin forcing them to make difficult decisions between road safety and schools, between fire prevention and law enforcement. The rural roads in California are some of the most deadly in the nation because of these funding shortages.

The PILT program was created in 1976 and SRS in 2000 to provide payments to local governments and counties to offset losses in revenue caused by public lands. PILT and SRS funding invest in roads and bridges, medical services, law enforcement, search and rescue, education, forest management, and fire prevention. Even with PILT and SRS funding, which is limited, counties struggle to raise enough revenue to support the services they provide.

The 11 counties of District 1, have nearly 10 million acres in federal land (almost a quarter of California’s federal land) and receive just over $15 million from PILT (an average of just $1.50 per acre).

SRS and PILT funding must be reauthorized yearly and due to arguments in Congress, delays in funding happen often. Lapses in payments in 2014 and 2016 devastated counties and their ability to support critical services. SRS and PILT must be reauthorized this year for this essential funding to continue.

My Priorities:

  • Support reformatting PILT and SRS to reflect both the loss in revenue potential as well as the increased spending required due to public land (factoring in the excessive cost of deferred fire prevention and deferred maintenance on rural roads).
  • Support making the funding source permanent, so that our counties do not get held hostage by congressional funding debates each year, and they can plan their budgets in advance.