BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council on Monday evening adopted the FY2022 budget in the amount of $245,119,586.
Council Vice Chair James Robinson read the lengthy motion required to adopt the budget. He thanked Council for all the excitement of the discussion over the three days of hearing and said he appreciated the patience of all the discussions that were held about the very important budget document.
He thanked County staff for all the help they provided in answering his questions and all the effort it had taken to build the document which he said has widely continued to win awards.
“It’s easy to see why we win the awards when you see what this document takes to build and all the stuff they provide us. Thank you everyone for all the hard work and I can’t express enough how much gratitude I have that you all are prepared to put this document together and all we have to do is try and read it,” he said.
Councilor Denise Derkacs said she would like to echo what Councilor Robinson had said in thanking staff for preparing the budget.
“This is quite an undertaking. It’s been interesting discussions over these three days of meetings, certainly a learning experience for those of us who are new to Council. So thank you to everyone involved in making this happen and taking us through the process,” she said.
Councilor David Izraelevitz said he knew there were two people who had spent a lot of personal time getting the budget together – County Budget Manager Karen Kendall and County Manager Harry Burgess.
“I think that is one of the typical responsibilities to disambiguate all of the different priorities among the different departments to give us clear choices as to what we can do, so I just want to express my appreciation to Mr. Burgess. I don’t know if this time next year he’ll be thinking longingly about budget times – I’m not sure he will – and to Miss Kendall – I wonder whether she will be thinking longingly about budget times as well. I’m sure we will miss them both this time next year,” he said.
Councilor Sara Scott said hat’s off to the staff and Burgess.
“I am 100 percent sure he’s going to be watching next year. I also wanted to say I appreciated Council, I appreciate the constructive comments that were made in terms of trying to sort through challenging issues. We have an amazing community. We have a lot of different and divergent needs and I appreciate when we can honestly chat through options and how we might best meet the community’s needs. I just wanted to say I appreciate that in addition to the very well-deserved comments regarding staff and all their efforts,” she said.
Councilor Sean Williams said he was only going to pipe up to say that everything had already been said.
“I hope that Mr.Burgess and Miss Kendall have entertaining retirements which I think for the younger members of Council is something we dream about,” he said. “I guess this is the last push before you get to go relax so I hope you enjoy it.”
Chair Randall Ryti said obviously the staff do a tremendous amount of work.
“They do a good job of trying to understand and read what we want as Council in our priorities and they present us with options. I think we had some good discussions. Obviously there were things we couldn’t come to complete agreement on the option. And I think we did leave a little bit of policy interpretation on some of these items but I think staff had a pretty good understanding of what we need to do.,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure working with Mr. Burgess and Miss Kendall and Mr. Lynne who’s not going anywhere – it’s been a pleasure working with him too and that everybody was able to answer the questions any of us had on the budget. I appreciate everyone’s work and engagement.”
Council approved four budget options which remained after last week’s hearing as follows:
- $2.4 million for automated unlocking bear carts for some 7,000 customers in Los Alamos and White Rock as well as 260 dumpsters
- $150,000 for design of eight new tennis courts with lights.
- $10,000 for membership of the Coalition of Sustainable Communities New Mexico and other entities
- $200,000 for a capital grant for UNM-LA
The vote to adopt the budget was 6-1, with Councilor David Reagor in opposition.