Election & Allocation Guidelines

Updated: December 2, 2013

 On October 2, 2013 Congress passed a one year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act as part of HR 527 Helium Stewardship Act. Additional information will continue to be posted as it becomes available.

Election to receive payment

Each county in an eligible state must elect to receive one of the following payments:

  • a share of the state’s 25-percent payment, OR
  • a share of the “State payment”.

25-percent. Since 2008 the 25-percent payment has been based  on a 7-year rolling average national forest receipts, distributed among the counties in which the national forest is situated in proportion to acreage of national forest in the affected counties.  25-percent payments must be used for public schools and roads in accordance with 16 U.S.C. 500. Under 16 U.S.C. 500, the State has broad discretion as to how to allocate the payment for public schools and roads, including authorizing the county to make the allocation.

State payment.  The county share of the Secure Rural Schools Act State payment must be allocated according to the guidelines below to be used for public schools and roads (commonly called title I funds), title II special projects on national forests, and title III county funds to be used for Firewise communities activities, to reimburse counties for emergency services on the national forests and for development of community wildfire protection plans.  More information on authorized uses of title II funds for Special Projects and title III, County Funds is posted elsewhere on this web site.

Projected payments for FY2013

Affected States and counties may view the Projected FY2013 State Payments and the Estimated 25-percent payments, FY2008-FY20112, to help inform their election to receive payment.  These are posted on the Secure Payments / Payments and Receipts page. 

Projected FY2013 State Payments shows the projected county share of the FY 2013 State payment for all affected counties is shown.   The county share of the State payment may vary depending on updates to acreage of national forest in the county, per capita personal income and the number of counties that elect to receive the State payment.

Estimated 25-percent payments, FY2008-FY20112 shows the estimated 25-percent payment that would have been made to states (and counties) for fiscal years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 if they were not receiving a Secure Rural Schools Act State payment.  The payments are payments based on the 7-year rolling average receipts.   The Forest Service has not made an estimate or projection of the FY2013 25-percent payment, but counties may use the FY2012 estimated 25-percent payment and related data to make their own estimate of the FY2013 25-percent payment.

Deadline to elect to receive payment is December 31, 2013

Each county in which a national forest is located must elect to receive a share of the State payment or a share of the State’s 25-percent payment. The Forest Service is extending the deadline to December 31, 2013 to provide each affected county the maximum feasible time to make its election, communicate the election to the State, and for the State to transmit the election to the Forest Service. This date is also the deadline for county elections to allocate the State payment to be transmitted to the Forest Service.  The county elections are effective for FY2013. 

Governor’s transmittal of county election to receive payment

A county’s election to receive a payment must be transmitted by the Governor of each eligible State.  The Forest Service will not accept an election directly from a county or from any organization acting on behalf of a county. County elections must be transmitted by the Governor’s office or other appropriate executive office of the State, such as State Treasurer, on behalf of the Governor.  The Forest Service will send a letter and form with instructions to the eligible States about transmitting county elections to the Forest Service acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture.  

Failure to elect to receive a payment

If the Governor of an eligible State fails to transmit the election to receive payment on behalf of an eligible county by the deadline the county shall be considered to have elected to receive a share of the State payment.  

County election to allocate its share of the State payment

Allocation guidelines

Each county that elects to receive a share of the State payment must make an additional election to allocate its share of the State payment.  The guidelines for making the allocation vary depending on the amount of the county share of the State payment.  Eligible states and counties may use the projected payments data posted on the Secure Payments / Payments and Receipts page to help inform their decisions about allocating among titles.  The projected county share of the FY 2013 State payment for all affected counties is shown.   The county share of the State payment may vary depending on updates to acreage of national forest in the county, per capita personal income and the number of counties that elect to receive the State payment.

The following is a summary of the allocations guidelines for counties electing to receive a share of the Secure Rural Schools Act State payment.

• $100,000 or less. Prior to 2011, a county that elects to receive a share of the State payment that is $100,000 or less (a minor distribution) must make an affirmative election to allocate its share of the State payment. An eligible county that receives a minor distribution and fails to allocate its payment shall be considered to have elected to expend 80 percent of its share of the State payment for public schools and roads. The remaining 20-percent will be available to the Forest Service to carry out projects in the eligible county to further the purposes of title II. This is a new requirement.

An eligible county that receives a minor distribution may allocate 100 percent of its share to schools and roads under title I. The county also may opt to allocate its share in the same manner as a county with a share that is $350,000 or greater. That is, the county must allocate 15-percent to 20-percent of its share to title II, title III, or a combination of both, except that the allocation for title III projects may not exceed 7 percent. The total percentage allocated to title II and title III combined must be no less than 15 percent and no greater than 20 percent. The county also may opt to return its allocation, in whole or part, to the Federal Government. This is a new requirement.


• $100,001 to $349,999. If the county share of the State payment is more than $100,000 but less than $350,000, the county must allocate 15-percent to 20-percent of its share to title II, title III, or a combination of both. The total percentage allocated to title II and/or title III must be no less than 15 percent and no greater than 20 percent. The county also may opt to return its allocation, in whole or part, to the Federal Government. If the county fails to allocate its payment it shall be considered to have elected to expend 80 percent of its share of the State payment for public schools and roads. The remaining 20-percent will be available to the Forest Service to carry out projects in the eligible county to further the purposes of title II. This is a new requirement.

• $350,000 or greater. If the county share of the State payment is $350,000 or greater, the county must allocate 15-percent to 20-percent of its share to title II, title III, or a combination of both, except that the allocation for title III projects may not exceed 7 percent. The total percentage allocated to title II and title III combined must be no less than 15 percent and no greater than 20 percent. The county also may opt to return its allocation, in whole or part, to the Federal Government. If the county fails to allocate its payment it shall be considered to have elected to expend 80 percent of its share of the State payment for public schools and roads. The remaining 20-percent will be available to the Forest Service to carry out projects in the eligible county to further the purposes of title II. This is a new requirement.
 

Deadline to allocate the county share of the State payment is December 31, 2013.

The deadline for the county to elect to allocate its share of the State payment and transmit that election through the Governor or other appropriate State executive office, such as the State Treasurer, on behalf of the Governor, is December 31, 2013.   

Governor's transmittal of the county allocations

By December 31, 2013, the Governor of an eligible State must transmit to the Forest Service the election of an eligible county to allocate its share of the State payment among titles II and III, or both, or to return funds to the Federal Government.   The requirement that the Governor transmit county allocation elections is new.  The Forest Service will not accept an allocation election directly from a county or from any organization acting on behalf of a county.  Elections must be transmitted by the Governor’s office or other appropriate executive office of the State, such as State Treasurer, on behalf of the Governor.  The Forest Service will send a letter and form with instructions to the eligible States about transmitting county elections to the Forest Service acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture.  

Failure to allocate the State payment

If the Governor of an eligible State fails to transmit the election of an eligible county’s allocation of its share of the State payment by December 31, 2013, the county shall be considered to have elected to expend 80 percent of its share of the State payment for public schools and roads. The remaining 20-percent will be available to the Forest Service to carry out projects in the eligible county to further the purposes of title II.  The Act does not require that the Forest Service’s use of the remaining 20-percent be reviewed or recommended by a resource advisory committee.

Making the State payment

The Forest Service will coordinate with the U.S. Treasury to have the schools and roads (title I) and title III portions of the State payment paid to eligible states near the begining of the calendar year.  The State will then distribute the payment among the participating counties.  Title II funds are held in special accounts for projects recommended by resource advisory committees and approved by the Forest Service.