BILLINGS – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was in Billings on Wednesday to announce Montana is receiving $40.1 million in PILT funds.
The money will be divided up among 55 of Montana’s counties.
PILT stands for "payment in lieu of taxes program."
Local governments are able to use the money to offset costs for essential services like road maintenance and public land access.
"The federal government should be a partner. It should be a good neighbor. But we should have a trusting relationship that together, better decisions are made when local community’s voice is heard," Zinke said.
Almost 30 percent of the state is compromised of PILT-entitled federal lands.
The money helps offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands.
"In Yellowstone County, we’re kind of a small recipient, we get $300,000 or $400,000 of PILT money, but for Ravalli County and Madison County, and some of these counties that are mostly national forest or federal land, it’s an enormous part of their budget and it pays for their schools and it pays for their roads, pays for their infrastructure, bridges. This is huge for all of the counties and we’re very happy that the secretary was by and signed the check today," said Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund.
This year, the PILT program is issuing a historic amount of funds at $530 million across the U.S.