Missouri counties get $4.9M in federal funds for 1.2M acres of tax-exempt land

(The Center Square) – More than half of Missouri’s 114 counties will receive $4.9 million out of a total of $578.8 million in “payments in lieu of taxes” from the U.S. Department of Interior.

The funds are paid to state and local governments because federal lands can’t be taxed. The federal money helps defray the costs associated with maintaining community services.

Seventy-two counties will receive some amount of federal funding; 23 will receive at least $100,000. Approximately 2.1 million acres, less than 5% of all Missouri territory, is designated as federal land.

The payments are made for tax-exempt federal lands administered by the DOI, including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Each county or jurisdiction’s total number of acres of federal land and the population of the county or jurisdiction are considered when calculating payments. More than $26.3 billion in revenue is collected annually by the federal government from commercial activity on public lands. After a portion is distributed to states and counties, the balance is deposited into the U.S. Treasury, according to information provided by the DOI. Funds for the payments in lieu of taxes are distributed from the U.S. Treasury.

The top four counties receiving funds all have 100,000 or more federal acres and are located in southeast Missouri.

Wayne County, with approximately 11,000 people, has the largest number of acres of federal land in the state with 133,103, approximately 27% of its total acreage of 495,360, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It will receive $301,970.

Shannon County, with a population of approximately 7,000, will get $261,465 as approximately 19% of its total acreage – 119,504 of 640,000 acres – are federal lands.

Reynolds County has 107,355 acres of federal land or 21% of its 512,000 acres and will receive $236,373 to assist in serving its 6,000 residents.

Oregon County, with its 8,600 residents, will receive $214,022 as 106,604 acres – 21% – of its 506,000 acres are federal lands.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to boosting local communities,” Joan Mooney, the principal deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, said in a statement announcing the distribution of funds. “PILT payments help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations. We are grateful for our ongoing partnerships with local jurisdictions across the country who help the Interior Department fulfill our mission on behalf of the American public.”

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