Thursday, July 8, 2010

County Loses $500,000 In PILT Funds

Mountain Mail Reports
Socorro County was expecting to receive $1.5 million in PILT money from the Department of Interior.
But at Thursday’s special County Commission meeting, county manager Delilah Walsh announced the bad news.
The county was only going to receive $1 million, a 35 percent cut, for the next two years.
Walsh said the county will suffer delays and cuts in the budget for the next two years.
“Our county does have reserves while others do not,” Walsh said.
Finance director Roberta Smith suggested that raises be cut and have a hiring freeze, but do not include layoffs.
But the news is not all bad.
Walsh said in an interview Wednesday that the county has enough money in reserve to cover the shortfall and services will not be cut.
“We are actually in good shape because we have enough in reserve,” Walsh said. “Other counties are in trouble because they don’t have enough. I know that Rio Arriba County lost something like $1.2 million.”
Walsh said most of the county managers were surprised. They received the PILT money on June 29 and when the county received the money, Walsh said, “I thought it was a mistake.”
What happened was the federal government recalculated how the money would be distributed to different states, Walsh said.
Walsh said there would be a budget meeting on Thursday for all department heads to discuss the matter.
“We are OK this year, but I am worried about the next fiscal year,” Walsh said. “Since we are getting $1 million, we are probably getting $1 million next year as well. So we have to adapt.”
PILT stands for “Payments In Lieu of Taxes,” which are federal payments to local governments that held offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries.
In the meantime, Walsh and Smith have sent out memos to department heads, discussing the cuts.
In other business, the county approved a resolution regarding the investment of funds at Wells Fargo Bank and First State Bank. The commissioners decided on an option that would put $2 million in First State at .4 percent for one year, $1 million to First State for 180 days at .35 percent and another $2 million to Wells Fargo at .25 percent.
The county also approved a contract regarding county attorney services. It was approved with an amendment that would go from one year to four years with a 30-day withdrawal period.

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