Federal Lands:

Fees for Communications Sites Are Below Fair Market Value

T-RCED-94-262: Published: Jul 12, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1994.

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GAO discussed the fees the government receives for the use of federal communications sites. GAO noted that: (1) the fees charged for communication sites are significantly below fair market value because the Forest Service bases fees on a 40-year-old formula and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) bases fees on outdated appraisals; (2) there are numerous unauthorized users on Forest Service lands because the Service believes that permits cost more to issue than the fees they generate; (3) charging fair market fees could increase federal revenues from the present $4 million to about $23 million annually; (4) nonfederal landowners receive higher fees based on their lands' fair market value; (5) low federal fees could depress the fair market value of state sites and reduce the revenue states receive; (6) although the agencies and the communications industry agree that the current fees are too low, they do not agree on the amount the fees should be increased, partly because of industry concerns regarding the higher fees' adverse impact on small rural broadcasters; and (7) legislative limitations prevent the Forest Service and BLM from increasing the fees to fair market rates.

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