Grand County braces for reduced federal funding
by Steve Kadel
Staff Writer
Apr 11, 2013 | 1794 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Grand County will have a 5.1 percent reduction in Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments from the federal government this year.

Grand County Council chairman Gene Ciarus said the loss will be about $60,000 for the payment due in June. The county received $1.1 million in PILT funding last year, according to county clerk/auditor Diana Carroll.

“It’s not a staggering loss,” Ciarus said during an interview after the council’s April 5 workshop.

He said county department heads will likely be asked to find places in their budgets to make up for the financial loss.

County governments received a letter last month from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announcing the reduced funding. The letter said the loss is “Due to the failure of Congress to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration …”

Salazar wrote that he couldn’t tell counties exactly how much their loss would be. The payments given to counties that contain a large percentage of non-taxable federal land are based on a formula that considers acreage, population and the prior year’s revenue payment, Salazar’s letter noted.

PILT payments support essential county services such as law enforcement, emergency response, transportation infrastructure and access to healthcare, according to the National Association of Counties.

But PILT wasn’t the only potential funding loss from sequestration that county council members discussed. Other county operations that receive federal funding and might be affected include the Victim Advocate Program, the Grand County Aging and Nutrition Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

Council members indicated it’s too early to tell how much each one could be affected.

County Road Department Supervisor Bill Jackson said his office is in a good position to handle any federal cutbacks.

“We can downscale projects and keep moving along,” he said. “We’re pretty flexible.”

Council member Lynn Jackson said sequestration is just part of a changing economic climate in which increases in federal money can’t be expected in coming years.

“It’s the fluff that’s going to get cut,” he said. “We’ll have to make some hard calls.”

Carroll noted that the Family Support Center is having especially hard financial times, although the agency isn’t affected by sequestration. The center has disconnected its phone and staff members now rely on personal cell phones, she said.

“That’s the [program] I’m most concerned about,” Carroll said.

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