weather icon Clear

House approves PILT funding

WASHINGTON — A sweeping farm bill set for final votes in Congress next week rescues the federal program that compensates rural counties for federal lands they can’t tax.

The Payment In Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT, distributed $400 million last year to local governments, including to Nye County, to pay for police and fire protections and for road maintenance. Federal property otherwise cannot be taxed to pay for services.

More than three-quarters of the money in PILT goes to the 12 Western states. Nevada, which has 56 million acres of federal land, collected $23 million last year. Nye County received $2.8 million.

Lawmakers from the region complained when the PILT program was omitted from a budget deal approved this month. The farm bill authorizes $425 million for 2014 payments that would be distributed over the summer. The House approved the farm bill Wednesday on a 251-166 vote, sending it to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled a procedural vote for Monday, with passage expected later next week.

“As a rural Nevadan, I know how important PILT funding is for our counties,” Reid said. “That’s why I worked to ensure this one-year extension was included in the farm bill agreement. It is a matter of fairness that in a state like Nevada, where the federal government owns over 85 percent of the land, our counties receive the revenue they deserve from this land.”

The White House says President Barack Obama will sign the bill.

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., from the fourth congressional district representing Nye County, and Republican Rep. Joe Heck both voted for the farm bill, a sprawling measure that sets nutrition and agriculture policies for the next five years.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., did not vote, with a spokesman saying he was home in Carson City recovering from eye surgery performed last week.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., voted against the bill. She complained that while it increased subsidies to farmers, it cut food stamps by about $90 a month for 850,000 recipients.

The change in the food stamp program affected recipients in 16 states that had adopted a supplemental funding formula, but Nevada was not one of them, according to Horsford.

“SNAP recipients in Nevada will not see a dime cut from their benefits in this bill,” he said, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps.

Still, said Titus, “I believe that we can and should be doing more to end hunger in the U.S., and this cut is a step in the wrong direction.”

Nevada lawmakers applauded the restoration of PILT payments.

“These dollars pay for education, law enforcement, infrastructure, and other vital social services,” Horsford said. “This one-year renewal gives some certainty to local governments in planning their budgets, but we need to continue to work on permanent funding.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Death Valley visitation fell to 820,000 in 2020

Death Valley National Park announced visitation fell to 820,000 people 2020, about half the number of people that visited the park the previous year.

Rally against desert solar projects planned for Saturday

Basin and Range Watch, a nonprofit organization with the slogan “Defending the Desert,” will hold a live and virtual gathering Saturday to bring attention to large-scale solar projects planned for California and Nevada.

California lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, Feb. 24 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $24 million.

Outdoor recreation survey to help shape future projects in Nevada

What should the future of outdoor recreation look like in Nevada? What should dollars earmarked for the purpose be put toward? What kind of projects do Nevadans want to see over the course of the next few years?

Tonopah Liquor Co., where everybody knows your name

Tiffany and Marc Grigory were reminded of what kind of town their Tonopah Liquor Company serves when they were forced to close the venerable bar during the pandemic.

Pahrump Rotarians provide books to local school children

An ongoing program to increase literacy rates among area elementary school children has returned, courtesy of the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club.

Two-vehicle crash jams traffic along Highways 160, 372

No serious injuries were reported following a two-vehicle collision along southbound Highway 160, just before 12:30 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 22nd.

Credit union offering free financial education

In an effort to help youth become financially savvy, America First Credit Union is launching FUNDamentals, a customizable, financial literacy program created for kindergarten through 12th grade students and teachers.

Nye County 4-H robotics team earns prestigious awards

Awkward Silence, Southern Nye County 4-H’s competitive robotics team, took home two first-place awards at the first ever virtual FIRST Tech Challenge Southern Nevada League Championship competition this week.

HOPE Run retaining virtual format for 2021

With spring just a few weeks away and temperatures beginning to warm in the Pahrump Valley, residents’ minds are undoubtedly turning to the delights of the outdoors and what better way to get out and get active than with the NyE Communities Coalition’s annual HOPE Run?