Flathead County

Flathead County Receives $3.2 Million in Federal Land Payments

Department of Interior announced 1,900 counties were awarded $549.4 million from the PILT Program, while Montana will receive roughly $38 million this year

By Micah Drew
Autumnal larches encircle Lupine Lake in the forests north of Marion on Oct. 15, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County will receive more than $3.2 million this year from the federal government’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, the Department of Interior announced in June.

The payment is part of more than $549.4 million that will be distributed to 1,900 counties this year. According to the Association of Montana Counties, this was the second largest payment in the PILT program’s history. Montana will receive $38.2 million statewide, a 5.6% increase from 2021.

The money is directed towards counties where large tracts of land are administered by federal government agencies and thereby cannot be taxed. Individual county payments are calculated based on population and federally owned acreage, as well as additional revenue sharing payments allocated to the municipality. The money helps local governments construct public schools and roads, and fund police, firefighting, and search-and-rescue operations.

“This program is an important example of the federal government’s commitment to continuing to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. “The nearly $550 million being distributed will help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations.”

Other counties in Northwest Montana benefiting from the PILT funds include Glacier County, which will receive $1.1 million, Lincoln County, which is getting $732,936, Sanders County, which will receive $758,5269, and Lake County, with $492,116.

The annual PILT payments are reauthorized each year in the federal appropriations bill. Preliminary Interior budget proposals for fiscal year 2023 include funding PILT payments to counties for $515 million.

In 2021, Montana received $36.2 million in PILT payments, including $3.1 million for Flathead County. Flathead County has 2.44 million acres of federal land, the most in the state followed by Beaverhead County, with 2.05 million acres.

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