This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah counties received $34.7 million in federal payments this fiscal year under a long-standing program to compensate counties that are home to non-taxable federal lands.
The U.S. Department of Interior announced the release of $405 million through the program known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT. That represents a 7.4 percent dip from last year, perhaps reflecting the plunge in oil prices that has reduced the royalties the federal government received from crude pumped out of public lands.
Annual PILT payments are calculated based on a formula that accounts for counties' population and the number of acres of public land they hold.
Utah is the second-leading recipient after California. Tooele County is by far Utah's biggest PILT recipient, reaping $3.2 million this year.
Other leading recipients are: Iron County, with $2.9 million; Box Elder, with $2.8 million; and Uintah and Washington counties, with $2.7 million each.
"President Obama has made job creation and opportunity in rural areas a top priority for his administration and has fought for continuing the PILT program, which is a lifeline for many local communities," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in a statement. "PILT payments are critical for maintaining essential public services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations."
The money comes from the $14 billion the feds collect from commercial activities including oil and gas leasing and production, and mining, logging and grazing each year on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and other federal agencies.
The amount Utah receives fluctuates every year and has bounced between $33 and $38 million since 2008.
Among the state's neighbors, New Mexico received $34.5 million; Arizona, $31.7 million; Idaho, $26.4 million; Wyoming, $25 million; and Nevada $23.3 million.