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GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County will join a class-action lawsuit against the federal government that alleges underfunding of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The commissioners will officially join the lawsuit Tuesday at their regular meeting when they approve their consent agenda.

PILT are federal payments made to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands in their boundaries. In fiscal year 2018, Campbell County received $773,973 in PILT.

In June 2017, Kane County, Utah, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The class action alleges the federal government has underpaid counties’ PILT for fiscal years 2015-2017. Since then, hundreds of counties have joined the lawsuit.

Campbell County Deputy Attorney Carol Seeger said if the suit is successful, the county stands to get about $25,000 in PILT.

“This is an opportunity to get $25,000 you may not have gotten,” said County Administrative Director Robert Palmer.

With a class action lawsuit, the settlement already has been agreed upon, Seeger said, and every participating county “is going to be subject to whatever they feel your percentage would’ve been.”

While the county won’t have a seat at the table, it won’t cost the commissioners to participate.

“Is there any risk to being a part of this at all?” asked Commissioner Clark Kissack.

“Unless you want to initiate a lawsuit yourself, there’s no problem with joining,” Seeger said.

“Which we wouldn’t do for $25,000,” said Commission Chairman Mark Christensen. “It’d cost us more than we’d get.”

Campbell County joins 11 other Wyoming counties, including Sheridan, Converse and Crook counties, in the lawsuit.

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