Cordova/Valdez census area allocated $1.2 M

Lakes and Mountains on the Kenai Peninsula

Distribution of more than $29.69 million to Alaska, including $1.2 million for the Cordova/Valdez census area, is en route for areas of the state that include federal lands not subject to local taxes.

For the Cordova/Valdez area, the $1,227,679 payment is to compensate for 14,957,928 acres of federal land within the census area.

Statewide, that $29.69 million compensates for a total of 225,292,364 in federal acres.

The Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT program provides monetary compensation to local governments for national forests, Bureau of Land Management public lands, national parks and other public lands. PILT funds are designed to help local governments provide services such as firefighting and police protection, public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said that as chair of the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, she worked to ensure that the PILT program received $465 million nationwide, up $13 million from last year, including a $734,000 increase for Alaska.

“While Alaska continues to face an economic crunch, so many of our communities across the state are grappling with the tough task of figuring out how to direct resources where they are critically needed to provide even the basic core functions of government,” Murkowski said. “I’m happy that at a time when we need it most, Alaskan communities are receiving the funding owed to them.

“Considering that over 60 percent of Alaska’s lands are controlled by the federal government, the PILT program ensures communities a source of critical funding to help pay for emergency services, roads and other essential services that would normally rely on support via local property taxes,” she said.

The Matanuska Susitna Borough received $3,553,659 for 3,009,909 federal acres, followed by $3,113,471 for the Kenai Peninsula for 6,700,970 federal acres, and $2,216,925 to the Juneau city and Borough, which includes 1,673,167 federal acres.

Annual PILT payments are computed based on the number of acres of federal land within each jurisdiction and the population of that jurisdiction. Since PILOT payments began in 1977, the U.S. Department of the Interior has distributed nearly $8 billion to states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

The Interior Department collects over $8.8 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues is then shared through the PILT program.

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The Cordova Times is Prince William Sound’s oldest newspaper, publishing since 1914. Send story ideas and news tips to news@thecordovatimes.com.