Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott/Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County officials and employees reacted with relief Thursday when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 11, a bill removing Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories from the non-profit exemption for gross receipts tax (GRT).
Council Chair Sara Scott told the Los Alamos Reporter Thursday afternoon that she wanted to be sure to recognize the Governor and the State Legislature, especially Senators Carlos Cisneros and Richard Martinez, as well as Representatives Christine Chandler and Andrea Romero, for their hard work and important support for SB11.
“It is greatly appreciated and is critical to addressing the budget uncertainties that we have faced over the last year. I very much look forward to being able to continue to provide services and amenities important to the community and to Los Alamos National Laboratory such as police and fire protection, safe roadways, free public transit and after-school programs for children and teens,” Scott said.
She noted that the Council has completed a strategic planning exercise that identified seven priorities that will support both the community and the Laboratory and their mission and that she is excited to move forward on these and other initiatives.
“Additionally, we recognize the importance of the gross receipts tax to our Northern New Mexico neighbors and others around the state. We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with surrounding communities and working together in the context of other results from the legislative session to grow and sustain a strong future for our community, the Laboratory and our state,” Scott said.
Councilor David Izraelevitz also comment on the successful passage of the bill.
“This has been a multi-year effort under the leadership of our firm and wise sponsor, Sen. Carlos Cisneros. I am happy to see that a creative refinement of our bill this year led to unanimous bipartisan support,” he said. “I appreciate the efforts of our legislators including our new State Rep. Chris Chandler, the Governor and her staff, and all the people across many different organizations who worked towards this achievement.”
Izraelevitz said he looks forward to prioritization of the County’s budget given “these now reliable tax resources”.
County Manager Harry Burgess was also excited that the bill had been signed into law.
“This is great news! I would like to express my appreciation for everyone’s support for the bill – especially the legislators who sponsored it and carried the bill through the process,” he said. “For the past several years the County has been unable to consider new expenditures necessary for the continued provision of services, yet with this news we can now make plans for our community’s future.”
Rep. Chris Chandler said earlier this week that the unanimous bipartisan support in the House for SB 11 demonstrates that widespread recognition for the need to stabilize GRT revenue for state and local government.
Last year, Burgess and his staff in anticipation of the potential for a not-for-profit award of the LANL prime contract and its potential effects on GRT revenue introduced a flat budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year which Council approved. That budget did not include raises for non-represented personnel and also postponed capital projects. At that time, it was speculated that the County could experience a $20 million loss in GRT collection which would be significant for operations and the ongoing ability of the County to balance its budget.