Ravalli County “Secure Rural Schools” Funds May Dry Up
For 2011, Ravalli County received about $1,150,000 in the "Secure Rural Schools" program, which is to help counties that have large areas of national forest lands in their borders. Ravalli is one of 34 Montana counties that gets such funding for schools, roads, search and rescue, and other programs. Statewide, over $20 million is sent to counties from the federal government in these payments.
However, U.S. Senator Max Baucus, in a news release, noted that this is the last payment under the program, unless Congress reauthorizes it.
Baucus has introduced legislation to extend the program, along with fully funding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding that is for similar purposes. His legislation would continue the PILT funds for another 5 years.
Baucus said, "Montana counties...rely on these programs to keep the lights on... Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our rural counties that been hit hard by the economic downturn."