When county leaders in Wyoming look at the bipartisan federal budget proposal, there's something they don't see: millions of dollars owed them by the federal government.

The Department of the Interior’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program, which provides money to counties where federal land takes away from potential property taxes, is not funded through the budget proposal.

The program has provided Wyoming more than $75 million during the past three years, most of which goes toward local government and funds such services as public safety, housing and roads.

Roughly 50 percent of the land in Natrona County is owned by the federal government and PILT money accounts for roughly 6 percent of the county’s revenue, according to Natrona County Commission Chairman Bill McDowell.

McDowell said the county is bracing for the potential loss of PILT money for the upcoming year and has slashed its expectation of cash from the program by more than half.

“We have shared our concerns with the (county’s) employees and are fortunate that expenditures this past year have come in 10 percent under projections and revenues were 5 percent over,” he said.

McDowell said the county would be able to weather the loss of PILT money if the federal government does not extend the program, but was optimistic that the program would be continued.

“Last year they got it passed on the last day,” McDowell said.

On Friday, Sen. John Barrasso’s office issued a statement saying the Wyoming Republican would urge Washington to focus on funding the PILT program.

“In public land states like Wyoming, where large amounts of the land are owned by the federal government, Washington has an obligation to help local governments offset the loss of property tax revenue,” Barrasso’s press secretary, Laura Mengelkamp, said in an email. “Sen. Barrasso will continue to call on Washington to act as a responsible landowner and prioritize PILT funding in the upcoming appropriations process.”

Sen. Mike Enzi’s office also called for the continuation of the program Friday.

“Sen. Enzi will continue working to ensure that Wyoming’s rural communities receive the money they deserve during the appropriations process,” said Daniel Head, Enzi’s press secretary.

Both senators have said they're leaning toward voting against the budget deal as it stands right now. Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming's sole representative in the House, voted against the bill.

Although PILT will not be directly funded through the budget proposal which passed in the house Thursday, language in the budget agreement suggests bipartisan support to extend the program in fiscal year 2014, according to Ryan Yates, the associate legislative director for Public Lands at the National Association of Counties.

Yates said the PILT program is referenced within the deficit neutral reserve fund language in the agreement, meaning that the proposal recommends that the program be funded. How and when that may happen might not become clear until well into 2014. Last year, the program was attached to a transportation bill and passed into law in mid-July.

While the elimination or reduction of PILT funds would be “devastating” to counties in western states, according to Yates, the timing and uncertainty of whether the program will be passed is equally troubling to counties building their upcoming budgets under the assumption they won't receive full PILT funding.

“Counties are already in their budget cycle,” Yates said. “And as the program is not yet approved, many are working under the assumption that these dollars just won’t come.”

In Big Horn County, PILT funding provided more than $1 million in the 2011 fiscal year. In the 2014 revenue projection provided by the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, Big Horn will prepare its budget under the assumption that only about $360,000 will be provided through PILT.

“We’re trying to be as frugal as we can, not knowing what the future will bring,” Becky Lindsey, the county’s treasurer, said. “In the last year every department took a 6-and-a-half percent cut.”

Reach Patrick Simonaitis at 307-266-0623 or patrick.simonaitis@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter: @patsimonaitis.





(23) comments


Does anybody notice. That the u.s. Dollar will lose its distinguishment as the world reserve nite. Then countries will no longer need to purchase the dollar in order to buy goods from other countries.
Anybody notice that hedge fund investors average 100 million a year in profit . Just by counting on the devaluation of our currency. when we lose our world reserve currency status . That cause prices to go up by 50% or more.
The fed prints money and the banks are buying food futures.??. That doesn't put money out there. But it sets the stage for the next food crisis. And the banks will cash in ..


If WY Senators and Representative had the power and influence in Washington DC that they constantly claim to have this wouldn't be a problem to change. The only place they have any power or influence is in WY and their heads.


Wyoming is feeling the future early and spending will decrease. Kind of the ice age of American currency, we continue to spend and print to keep our fires of life styles burning. This means only one thing cut back to stay warm or parish and I truly feel our economy is tipping towards, the latter.
However I must say, our legislative branch spends just as much on worthless funding. How much have we wasted on, invesigations, hiring a new director, hiring a new football coach, a budget for 175 million for counties, and cites, along with pay raise of 80 million for state employees. Sorry, don't bye into the budget,or raises, for once we should look at stemming the tides of spending and clean-up the house.
Sure people will not accept change, but if the desire to stay warm is paying the bills, then don't burn all the wood.


If the feds are not going to honor their PILT, then perhaps we should do as some are suggesting and reclaim the public lands within Wyoming's border. The transfer of public lands makes more and more sense. Why should western states be beholding to the federal government anyway? Seems that some states of the Union are given an economic advantage over others simply because of interference of commerce from the feds. Give Wyoming and other western states back the lands the feds illegally claim today.

Kool Kat

Ahen! Patrick lets get something straight right now!
Under the US Constitution, the Federal Government can not own any parts of any states. But, can act as a "managing partner" in maintaining these same lands with the state in which they maintain.
Therefore by your story, your comment is completely in error regarding "Federal Money", as verses collecting on State of Wyoming lands as Wyoming's managing partner. With that in mind, the Department of the Interior’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program becomes a thief, if Wyoming stands by on such a threat.
The best thing Wyoming can do is, pass new legislation into law, creating a new Wyoming Department of Lands Management. Creating many new jobs (Wyoming jobs) in the process. Therefore, Lieu of Taxes Programs and Mineral Royalties can no longer be withheld due to DC politics.

You literally eliminate this threat and exclude Federalism with Wyoming resources, whether lands or royalties.


"The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claoms of the United States, or of any particular State." Ariticle IV, Clause 2 According to this, the Congress is accountable to all citizens of the United States rather than the citizens of any particular state. There is a raft of case law, beginning with US v. Fitzgerald (1841), that holds that no appropriateion of public lands may be made for any purpose except by the authority of Congress. It would not appear that Wyoming can go its own way without a legal battle, certainly not by fiat.

Kool Kat

Article 4 - The States
Section 2 - State Citizens, Extradition

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

(there is no Clause 2 - otherwise you have a Constitution and Bill of Rights fighting each other)
Not sure where you copied and pasted from?
U.S. Constitution › Tenth Amendment
Tenth Amendment
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

(Wyoming land fees and royalties would easily fall in line with this) As each state can decide for itself on the objective of Statehood and Bill of Rights.


I see that you read the parts of the Constitution that appeal to you. Reading from Article IV, section 2, to the Tenth Amendment, you went right past Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2. I would call my mistake a typo, and yours jumping to conclusions. Now, if you want someone fighting over a conflict between different parts of the Consttution, this is the legal battle I was speaking of. Could you cite the case law that supports your use of the Tenth Amendment?

Kool Kat

Attn Pioneerpete, this is why our forefathers had the insight to give each state independence of the "over all government" but, part of the "union of states". The tenth Amendment has never been challenged, so there is nothing to cite.

You seem to try to equate the Government as a Parliament with Parliamentary Authority, and they just do not. As our government differs vastly from England and others socialist countries.
Our Government is representative of all fifty states, not of the Federal Government itself. England (as example) has a Parliamentary Government overseen by the Monarchy of the British Royal Family, or the Queen. There is a vast difference.
So could you cite me by url how to read and where to read what you rebuff with? Cause as it stands, I gave you "word for word" Article 4 and Section 2 as well as the Amendment. You gave me "typos and misquotes", as I'd like to be able to read the "clause 2" you claim is there.

Thank you in advance
As I stand firm regarding Wyoming lands, fees and royalties and government managing partner.

Kool Kat

Attn Pioneerpete, I'm still waiting...

Kool Kat

Haven't heard from you, Pioneerpete is this made up as well?


Isn't this the way you wanted it, cut spending, pay off the debt, protect the future? Somebody has to feel pain.


Wyoming needs to remember that is too has sovereignty as a state. It has rights under the law of government, just as do we, as citizens of that state. The federal government is bound by the U.S Constitution, but only if we as citizens keep its power in check.


Why would anyone in Wyoming want this handout from the government. We told them we don't want their medicaid money for the less fortunate, so why would we want 'medicaid' for federal lands. I remember watching old westerns the Indians would say ' white man speak with fork tongue'.


Indeed they do.


The cries of WY politicians: Keep big government out off our lives! (unless they owe us money) Cut federal spending! (only if it doesn't negatively affect me). Hypocrites!


Exactly.Well written comment.


Meanwhile Mead gives state general funds away to the feds like candy In a parade. Just this week he vowed millions to help curtail wildfires.

Life is grand huh Matty boy?

Kool Kat

Attn Sassy, I think the crusade for the Lander State Training School has won its case, unless I misread from an assumptive report from CST? My guess is, the mineral royalties of some $53 million the Feds tried keeping [earlier this year] from Wyoming share, were returned.
So when this kind of infusion to the State coffers are returned, yes, there really is extra money to do things as fight wildfires. Gov. Mead should encourage the Legislature to draft up a bill breaking the management of Wyoming lands between the Feds and the State of Wyoming.
As the Federal Government seems not responsible enough these days to meet it obligations. The obligation in splitting revenues the Feds collect off Wyoming lands in mineral Royalties and lands fees.
Therefore, Wyoming needs to - in a sense - fire its manager for incompetence using legislation under the Amendment 10 of the Bill of Rights. That would add roughly $1billion extra or more to the Wyoming coffers.
Then Wyoming could create its own Lands Management Department for the same purposes, using State employees, under Wyoming rules. Thus deflecting any further attempts at thieving monies owed to Wyoming for political purposes and the such.


Kool Kat, for all of your demanding curiosity, you have never learned to read, your own comments, the comments of others, the Constitution of the United States of America.

Kool Kat

Attn Jackalope, my curiosity is the "clause 2" he spoke he claimed was there. Would you happen to know where it is, or are you sarcastically commenting?
As you should by now know that many liberals, such as yourself will spout off with offering the data you and others claim is there. Like your FBI report on gun and people, that you've never shown as you suggested. (once upon a time)
I'm being sincere to look at these "so called' reports and data - in this case here a "Constitutional clause" Pioneerpete claims is there. But has not responded to since I called him on that "clause 2". Nor have you responded with the FBI report you claimed was there.


Here is comes. We are going to hear the whining and pleading from all the little towns and the counties begging for money that they no longer have. Instead of a budget, the spend thrift attitude can't be corralled, so sales taxes will go up. It is already starting in the basin, they want to make the little towns like they were 50 years ago, save a resurrect with tax dollars.

Hill Town Trader

Perhaps it is time for the Federal Government to get out of the land-owning business, particularly for the BLM and National Forest lands. Having the government own land rather then the private sector smack of something worthy of the soviets - and look how well that turned out.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.