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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho County accepts big federal dollars

Oct. 12, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 12, 2022 at 3:55 p.m.

By Kathy Hedberg Lewiston Tribune

GRANGEVILLE — Idaho County has grudgingly accepted the largest grant of any county in the state from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund payment to counties.

The Idaho County commissioners announced Tuesday that the county has received more than $5.1 million per year for the next two years — by far the largest grant in the state.

According to the treasury department’s website, the funding program serves to enhance counties that have historically experienced fluctuations in their revenue. The funds will supplement existing federal programs and can be used for a broad variety of projects, including expanding public services, investing in infrastructure or increasing the size of the government workforce.

Although Idaho County Aommission Chairperson Skip Brandt was listed by the Idaho Association of Counties as one of several county officials who recently lobbied the administration and Congress to direct American Rescue Plan Act money toward the counties, the commissioners’ announcement Tuesday indicated they are holding their noses at accepting such funds.

“While we do not support the current spending in Washington, D.C., once the funding has been committed and directed towards counties, we feel compelled to use that funding to support infrastructure and capital projects that will carry Idaho County into the future,” the commissioners said.

“Idaho County’s payment is significant due to the large percentage (83%) of Federally managed lands. We recognize that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be paying for the irrational spending by the current administration. However, we can refuse to apply for the funds and let large metropolitan areas and government bureaucracy use those dollars to support studies and services that run counter to the values of our citizenry. Strategic planning and careful spending will ensure that the citizens of Idaho County will see the fruits of this special funding for years to come.”

The funds were allocated similarly to the way to payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) is distributed to counties that have large tracts of nontaxable federal or state land within their borders. Idaho County also receives PILT monies annually and collected $1.9 million from that fund in fiscal year 2022.

The Idaho Association of Counties reported that 24 of the 44 counties in the state will receive a share in $98.8 million in payments over the next two years. The average annual county payment in Idaho is $1.1 million.

The association said the payments “are a monumental win for rural public land counties around the country and will provide needed funding for road and bridge improvements, county facility upgrades, and other one time county projects.”

According to the website, each year for two years Clearwater County will receive $2.5 million; Latah County will receive $162,588; Lewis County will get $50,000 and Nez Perce County will receive $51,091.

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