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The message is loud and clear. Gov. Bill Walker is telling it like it is: Alaska has difficult financial times before it.

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In case you missed it, Alaska's estimated population fell in the year 2014 — by a total of 61 residents. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough lost an estimated three residents, according to data from state demographers.

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Larry Dean Hogan, 72, died Jan. 2, 2015, in Ketchikan.
6/19/2014
PILT appreciated

Payment in lieu of taxes is the federal government doing its duty to the states and their communities.

Alaska will receive $28.5 million this year. Of that, Ketchikan will receive $1.1 million — $100,000 more than the Ketchikan Gateway Borough anticipated.

PILT subsidizes governments that lose tax revenue because the federal government doesn't pay taxes on federally owned land within their boundaries.

The feds expect to pay out $463.9 million in 2014 following a one-year extension of the program. To continue the program, it will have to be extended again.

When Congress is looking at ways to cut spending, it has considered PILT. But if it seriously looks at cuts to the program, then it also should consider in tandem transferring some federal land to the states. Then the states could arrange for the land to be transferred into the ownership of taxpayers. Taxpayers would develop the land — preferably near communities — to realize additional taxes to support local public services.

Until then, the communities need and appreciate PILT.