Garfield County joins PILT lawsuit |

Garfield County joins PILT lawsuit

Staff report

Garfield County has joined a class-action lawsuit that seeks to reimburse counties that were underpaid payment in-lieu of taxes (PILT) funds from 2015 through 2017.

If successful, Garfield County stands to receive an estimated $121,931 reimbursement through the legal action, according to the Garfield County press release.

The federal government pays PILT to local governments for federal lands within their boundaries that aren’t subjected to property taxes. The amount due is determined by a statutorily defined formula. In 2008, Congress made full funding of PILT mandatory through 2014, states the press release.

In 2015, the legislation on PILT payments was less direct and the amount was determined by Congressional appropriation, rather than the PILT formula. This resulted in a lower total payment, states the press release.

Kane County, Utah, filed a successful lawsuit in 2017, which confirms that the PILT formula is the proper measure of the amount owed, and that appropriation of the full amount is required and due to all eligible recipients.

As such, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that the U.S. Department of the Interior shall make full payments to eligible counties for the years 2015 through 2017. There are 1,957 counties eligible for the PILT reimbursements lawsuit, which has an opt-in deadline of Sept. 14, according to the press release.

“We met with Kane County [representatives], and several other PILT receivers, and there are no adverse effects from the Department of Interior for joining the lawsuit,” Commissioner John Martin said at the July 23 Board of County Commissioners meeting. “They said you’re entitled to it, accept it, and we go on from there.”

The amount Garfield County will receive will be $121,931, less attorney fees. The BOCC supported opting into the lawsuit unanimously, 3-0.

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