PILT: Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, Harry

Dear Nevada counties: The checks are in the mail.

Sen. Harry Reid issued a press release saying Nevada counties are to receive more than $25 million in federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) from the Department of the Interior. That’s more than $2 million more than the previous year.

PILT has been around since 1976 as means of making up for all the property taxes counties with huge tracts of federally controlled land can’t collect. But the funding has to be approved each year. PILT was left out of this year’s budget was included in the Farm Bill.

Reid boasted:

“PILT funding has a remarkable impact for Nevada counties. Over 85 percent of the land in Nevada is owned by the federal government, making it essential that Nevada receive its fair share. These funds support rural communities across Nevada in funding high-quality education, law enforcement, and healthcare systems. I have worked hard to make sure that these crucial programs are fully-funded, and I am grateful that Congress was able to extend these provisions this year. I will work to ensure PILT is again funded for this upcoming fiscal year.”

What the senator did not vow to do was give the states more of that land.

A preliminary draft report from the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force noted that the BLM loses 91 cents an acre on land it controls, while the average income for the four states that have public trust land is $28.59 per acre.

The draft report said the state could net $114 million by taking over 4 million acres of BLM land, less than 10 percent. Taking over all 48 million acres could net the state more than $1.5 billion — about half the current annual general fund budget.

Interior’s total payout to all the states amounted to $437 million. But as Harry Reid noted in 2013,  “The Interior Department collects about $14 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting.”

Interior rakes in $14 billion from land that should belong to the states and generously doles out a paltry $437 million.

Harry doles out nickels on the dollar.

But we should all be thankful the powerful majority leader of the Senate is bringing home the bacon for Nevada counties, which collectively will get 45 cents an acre, while neighboring Idaho gets only 88 cents and acre, Arizona gets $1.23, California $1.03, Utah $1.15, New Mexico $1.68 and the president’s home of Hawaii gets $2.58 per acre.

9 comments on “PILT: Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, Harry

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    Nevada gets only 45 cents an acre in lieu of taxes, too bad Harry Reid didn’t own some of that land, he got 1.7 million dollars for his scrub land in Searchlight, okay, there was a small house on it, but still. Last week he, acting as a nominal great white father, arranged enlargement of some Indian Reservations, what is it with him and scrub land? Makes me wonder if when he sees scrub land he sees it covered with sonar panels, anything but oil rigs.

  2. Rincon says:

    Does the amount have anything to do with the value of the land? Nevada has some of the least desirable real estate in the country. Are the Arizona, Hawaii, etc. holdings all desert?

  3. Vernon Clayson says:

    I called it scrubland but that’s just the surface, what lies beneath that the faraway government geniuses desire to keep their rotten hands on?

  4. Winston Smith says:

    Did Harry have his cowboy boots and hat on during the announcement? He always loves to wear those when “doing something for the folks back home.”

  5. He was probably carrying his single-shot .22.

  6. Rincon says:

    Hmm…it’s never simple. Am I right in assuming that Nevada gets less because the government pays by the person rather than by the acre?

  7. It is largely based on population but even then the figures make no sense. I’ve not bothered to crunch the per capita numbers this year, but here are last year’s calculations:


  8. […] year ago Nevada’s Democratic Sen. Harry Reid issued a press release bragging about all the money Nevada was getting, pointing out that “Nevada’s PILT payments rose […]

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