FARMINGTON — San Juan County will receive less this year from a national program that reimburses counties with large amounts of federal land for lost property taxes.
In the recent past, the county received more than $2 million each year. This year that amount will be reduced by 2.5 percent because of the automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration."
The payment this year is a little more than $2.06 million. Last year it received more than $2.1 million.
It is the first time the county's funding from the program has decreased since 2008.
Under the "payment-in-lieu-of-taxes" program, payments are made to county governments based on the amount of federal land within their borders because that land is exempt from property taxes.
The money goes into the San Juan County's general fund.
The Four Corners states and California receive more money from the program than any other state in the nation.
San Juan County itself will receive more money in 2013 than 27 states.
San Juan County had planned for a reduction because of sequestration, which called for an across-the-board 6-percent decrease for federally funded programs, said San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter.
The county has 861,233 acres federal land within its borders, according to the Department of the Interior's website. The federal land is shared between the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service.
"PILT funding helps maintain the economic strength of our rural communities by providing safer roads, better schools and thousands of local jobs," New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement. "While New Mexico's share of PILT funding would have been higher without sequestration, I am pleased this program is helping counties provide critical services on which New Mexicans rely."
Prior to 2009, San Juan County received much less from the program than it has recently. From 1994 to 2001 the county received less than $700,000. From 2002 to 2007, the county received between $1 million and $1.3 million.
Since 2008 the county has received more than $2 million each year.
"It's not the equivalent of property taxes but (PILT) is something that has been very beneficial to San Juan County for several years," Carpenter said.