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Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Lawsuit


PILT Underfunding 2015-2017
Posted Date: 
June 19, 2018
Contact: 
Shantil Siaperas, Communications Director, Montana Association of Counties

On June 19, 2018 MACo was one of many counties across the country on a conference call regarding the underfunding of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for 2015, 2016, and 2017.  The call was with the National Association of Counties (NACo) and a law firm (Smith, Currie, and Hancock) representing Kane County, Utah.

According to the Department of Interior, "PILT payments are federal payments that help local governments carry out such vital services as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations. The payments are made annually for tax-exempt Federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (all bureaus of the Interior Department), the U.S. Forest Service (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and for Federal water projects and some military installations. PILT payments are one of the ways the Federal Government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities."

First some history:  12 years ago, Congress failed to fully fund PILT.  The underfundings were substantial, and an Arizona county brought suit against the federal government.  The Court determined that the county didn’t have standing due to statutory language that had existed at the time which limited PILT payments to the amount appropriated.

Fast forward to 2008:  Congress made full funding mandatory 2008-2014 and made other amendments to the PILT statute.

Fast forward again to 2015, 2016, and 2017:  The statutory language limiting funding to congressional appropriations was not in the bill for 2015.  The 2015, 2016, and 2017 underfunding cases are based on the full funding language and the “based on amount appropriated.”

Present time:  King County, UT, went forward with a suit and won summary judgement and certified the class.  Every county receiving PILT in 2015, 2016, and 2017 is a member of the class, and each class member must reaffirm presence in the class (opt-in), which would make the class member subject to the terms of the outcome of the litigation, which looks favorable, since Kane County was awarded summary judgement.

1,957 counties were mailed formal notice of these events, including details on case as well as provided instructions on how to include individual county in the class.  The forms are included in the mailing and also online:  https://www.smithcurrie.com/piltpaymentsinfo/.  Also on this website, you can review decisions, class certification, FAQs, and submit questions that will be answered within one business day.

The opting-in deadline is September 14, 2018.  Participation in the suit binds the participant to the outcome.  Legal fees will be deducted on a pro rata basis.

If a county doesn’t opt in, they are not part of the decision and won’t share in any judgement awards.  A county may bring a suit individually.

To determine what a county could receive, one would take the PILT funds received in 2015, 2016, 2017, multiply total by 1.33%, which we have done in the table below. (Keep in mind, however, that these dollars would have the legal fees subtracted.)

This is our understanding of the lawsuit.  Please visit the law firm’s website (https://www.smithcurrie.com/piltpaymentsinfo/) for their official information.

 

County

2017
Payment

2016
Payment

2015
Payment

Sum of
2015-2017

Estimate of
Underpayment

Anaconda Deer Lodge

$453,566

$433,465

$424,329

$1,311,360

$17,441

Beaverhead

$757,068

$746,132

$738,262

$2,241,462

$29,811

Big Horn

$15,286

$15,067

$14,908

$45,261

$602

Blaine

$1,013,358

$857,895

$791,983

$2,663,236

$35,421

Broadwater

$663,448

$582,155

$588,346

$1,833,949

$24,392

Carbon

$1,094,898

$966,654

$876,892

$2,938,444

$39,081

Carter

$210,792

$204,460

$201,696

$616,948

$8,205

Cascade

$478,564

$463,975

$457,040

$1,399,579

$18,614

Chouteau

$374,826

$367,164

$353,813

$1,095,803

$14,574

Custer

$862,044

$853,876

$846,232

$2,562,152

$34,077

Daniels

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Dawson

$53,800

$23,258

$23,013

$100,071

$1,331

Fallon

$42,760

$42,146

$41,701

$126,607

$1,684

Fergus

$1,215,142

$1,188,101

$1,174,020

$3,577,263

$47,578

Flathead

$2,619,256

$2,531,972

$2,399,044

$7,550,272

$100,419

Gallatin

$1,699,685

$1,635,635

$1,599,623

$4,934,943

$65,635

Garfield

$234,730

$228,946

$221,625

$685,301

$9,115

Glacier

$1,037,183

$1,014,991

$997,421

$3,049,595

$40,560

Golden Valley

$73,213

$73,351

$69,015

$215,579

$2,867

Granite

$259,031

$255,019

$252,329

$766,379

$10,193

Hill

$121,875

$108,852

$96,409

$327,136

$4,351

Jefferson

$1,216,670

$1,178,171

$1,152,460

$3,547,301

$47,179

Judith Basin

$263,528

$239,757

$238,549

$741,834

$9,866

Lake

$443,525

$431,940

$421,741

$1,297,206

$17,253

Lewis & Clark

$2,458,342

$2,398,941

$2,339,132

$7,196,415

$95,712

Liberty

$82,747

$78,237

$74,636

$235,620

$3,134

Lincoln

$644,300

$635,059

$628,360

$1,907,719

$25,373

Madison

$891,024

$814,969

$762,953

$2,468,946

$32,837

McCone

$286,247

$279,802

$251,734

$817,783

$10,877

Meagher

$179,537

$176,949

$174,519

$531,005

$7,062

Mineral

$236,917

$233,513

$231,050

$701,480

$9,330

Missoula

$1,776,007

$1,687,735

$1,648,546

$5,112,288

$67,993

Musselshell

$179,873

$185,553

$171,312

$536,738

$7,139

Park

$1,349,565

$1,308,161

$1,265,180

$3,922,906

$52,175

Petroleum

$84,853

$84,828

$86,932

$256,613

$3,413

Phillips

$511,406

$500,724

$495,442

$1,507,572

$20,051

Pondera

$233,444

$222,892

$221,255

$677,591

$9,012

Powder River

$219,074

$215,927

$213,650

$648,651

$8,627

Powell

$636,300

$550,535

$488,754

$1,675,589

$22,285

Prairie

$158,456

$156,179

$154,532

$469,167

$6,240

Ravalli

$2,375,857

$2,238,057

$2,120,780

$6,734,694

$89,571

Richland

$19,999

$19,711

$19,503

$59,213

$788

Roosevelt

$1,580

$1,558

$1,541

$4,679

$62

Rosebud

$120,198

$118,468

$117,219

$355,885

$4,733

Sanders

$338,425

$333,584

$330,065

$1,002,074

$13,328

Sheridan

$657

$648

$641

$1,946

$26

Silver Bow

$556,118

$542,654

$532,745

$1,631,517

$21,699

Stillwater

$448,508

$427,422

$402,034

$1,277,964

$16,997

Sweet Grass

$541,699

$466,233

$432,910

$1,440,842

$19,163

Teton

$674,618

$664,988

$637,049

$1,976,655

$26,290

Toole

$88,550

$70,712

$51,555

$210,817

$2,804

Treasure

$276

$272

$269

$817

$11

Valley

$1,137,518

$1,097,319

$1,092,363

$3,327,200

$44,252

Wheatlkand

$136,690

$121,812

$123,726

$382,228

$5,084

Wibaux

$9,959

$9,816

$9,713

$29,488

$392

Yellowstone

$203,279

$199,006

$198,458

$600,743

$7,990

TOTALS

$31,786,271

$30,285,246

$29,259,009

$91,330,526 

$1,214,696

 

Shantil Siaperas | shantil@mtcounties.org | (406) 449-4360