Alaska cities, boroughs see more cash from Department of the Interior

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s funding efforts pay off for communities

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

The Department of the Interior will send more than $32.3 million to local governments across Alaska as part of this year’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program.

 

The department announced this year’s disbursements on Tuesday, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, trumpeted the figure in a series of notices Wednesday.

“We worked hard in the appropriations process to ensure it received full funding, and now, as the Department of the Interior disburses these payments, we are enabling our communities to provide for first responders, roads, and other critical services,” she said in a prepared statement.

PILT payments have come from the federal government to communities across the country each year. The program was created in 1976 by Congress to compensate communities for federal land within their borders. Since municpalities and states can’t tax federal property, they lose out on potential revenue. PILT compensates for that loss.

Murkowski is in a powerful position as chairwoman of the appropriations committee for the Department of the Interior and last year included $553 million for PILT payments in the federal budget, up significantly from the year before.

The City and Borough of Juneau will receive $2.8 million, more than the city had been expecting and a significant increase from prior years. In fiscal year 2018, for example, the city received $2.2 million. The city’s FY19 budget anticipated $2.15 million in PILT payments.

At $2.8 million, PILT payments are higher than they have ever been. In FY10, for example, the payments were $1.4 million. In FY14, there were no PILT payments after Congress failed to appropriate any money.

Other communities across Alaska are seeing similar increases. Skagway, for example, will receive $196,000, according to figures provided by treasurer Heather Rodig. That’s up from $172,000 last year and $162,000 the year before.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough will receive more than $3.6 million, as will the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Both are the top recipients of PILT. Last year, each received about $3.1 million.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


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