Idaho counties will receive more than a quarter million dollars this year to offset property taxes where Fish and Game owns land.
Sportsmen's license money pays the fees-in-lieu-of-taxes (FILT) to keep counties from losing funding that would otherwise come from taxes on private property. These fees have been paid since 1992 when the Idaho legislature approved the offset.
Fish and Game owns properties that serve as sportsmen's access to waterways, administrative lands and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). WMAs serve locales where critical wildlife habitat might otherwise cease to exist. Some WMAs have been transferred to Fish and Game by other government agencies, some were purchased outright and others were acquired by private conservation organizations, then transferred to the department.
The total of payments to counties in 1999 was $257,049.81. Fees are determined by county officials based on assessed value or on the basis of statewide averages set by the State Tax Commission.
Amounts paid to counties vary widely because of the amount and types of lands Fish and Game owns. Minidoka County, for example, received $5.76 in 1999 while Nez Perce County was paid $87,585. Several northern counties receive relatively higher amounts because the department owns larger acreages and because some of them are timbered, which brings a higher tax.
This fee-in-lieu-of-tax system was worked out by legislators pressured on one side by county officials concerned about their property tax-funded budgets and on the other side by sportsmen and conservationists who wanted critical lands preserved for public use.