Idaho lawmakers hire firm to appraise federal public lands

Idaho is about 63% federal public land
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 12:18 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho lawmakers have hired a Utah company to appraise federal lands in Idaho to determine how much money lawmakers say the federal government should be paying the state if the lands were privately owned and subject to property taxes.

Republican Sen. Steve Vick and Republican Rep. Sage Dixon, co-chairmen of the Legislature’s Committee on Federalism, signed the $250,000 deal with Aeon AI last month. The Federalism Committee deals with state sovereignty issues.

Idaho is about 63% federal public land, but local governments can’t collect property tax on that land. A federal program called PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, aims to offset the loss of those taxes.

Some Idaho lawmakers say the state should get more than it has historically received, and results from the Aeon AI appraisal could bolster that argument.

U.S. lawmakers in both parties have at times taken issue with the PILT program and its payments, particularly Western states such as Idaho containing significant federal lands.

The payments are made annually by the Interior Department and its agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management. The payments also cover federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.

Idaho received $34.5 million last year. This year’s payment hasn’t been finalized.

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