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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.