Oregon County Commissioners traveled to the nation’s capital to attend regional State Leadership Day events at the White House and meet with members of Congress for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) fly-in held September 10-12. 

The PILT fly-in was one of NACo’s largest on record, bringing in roughly 100 county officials to Capitol Hill Sept. 11. Commissioners advocated for permanent mandatory funding for the PILT program and permanent funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. 

Both programs compensate counties that contain federally managed land, which cannot yield property tax revenue and counties that have seen a decline in timber harvests from federally managed forest land. PILT paid out $514 million in fiscal year 2019. Sixty-one percent of counties in the United States have federal land within their boundaries. Even though they are not able to collect property taxes on federal land, county governments must still provide essential services for their residents and those who visit these public lands each year. Such services include road and bridge maintenance, law enforcement, search and rescue, emergency medical, fire protection, solid waste disposal, and environmental compliance.

Oregon County Commissioners met with members of Congress and their staff, primarily from the Oregon congressional delegation and members that serve on appropriations committees and authorizing committees that could help advance legislation. Commissioners discussed the necessity of PILT funds and impact on their counties.

NACo participants also heard from several members of Congress during a Capitol Hill briefing session. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) discussed his proposal to reauthorize PILT for 10 years to provide certainty for counties. During the briefing, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) highlighted his bill that would expand PILT funding for counties with fewer than 5,000 residents. It would not reduce the PILT amounts paid to larger counties.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate