California's take of $36.8 million in so-called "payments in-lieu of taxes" has been a Godsend for strapped rural counties such as Tulare, host to non-taxable federal land such as Yosemite National Park and Hetch Hetchy reservoirs -- and recipient of a recent $2,724,727 check. San Francisco, sadly, didn't even earn its toothpaste money: The city's 2,364-acre patchwork of federal parks and other land was worth only $5,668 in federal payments.
The Department of Interior was supposed to deliver these payments to counties on June 10. Some rural counties in the western United States host millions of acres of federal land, and depend heavily on these yearly allotments to fund county services. Bureaucratic snafus this year, however, had pushed the scheduled payout date to mid-July.
A gaggle of 35 members of Congress, including Boxer, sent a letter to the Department of the Interior demanding swift payment. They got it. Checks arrived June 29, allowing beleagured counties such as Modoc, in California's desolate northeast corner, to deposit a cool $571,585 -- and thus make payroll.
San Francisco, facing a projected $438 million budget gap, won't much notice its piddling $5,668. The two counties Boxer once represented in the House, Sonoma and Marin, took home, respectively, $7,067 and $189,866.