Saturday, January 26, 2013

Subsidy to Idaho Rural Counties Much-Needed but Uncertain

Posted By on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM

A good share of Idaho's rural counties include federal lands, leaving a smaller portion of lands as taxable to fund public services, such as schools, law enforcement and public works.

In halcyon days, federal timber harvests reaped financial benefits for those counties. But more recently, with the timber industry on hard times, rural counties have needed other sources of revenues to keep school doors open.

Federal subsidies, under the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act, continue to slide, but the latest SRS government subsidy to Idaho's rural counties totals $26.6 million.

The Idaho County Free Press reports that Idaho County received the lion's share of SRS funds: $7.6 million, followed by Shoshone County: $2.5 million and Valley County: $2.4 million.

But the Press adds that in the last five years, the SRS program has decreased its annual payments by approximately 35 percent, and the chances of Congress reauthorizing the subsidy remain uncertain.

More than 80 percent of Idaho County is under federal management.

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