by DAVUD HAMPTON
Dear Los Alamos County Councilors,
Even though it is Easter, I am sure that many of you are preparing for the budget hearings starting Monday night. Weighing in at 446 pages, the budget is impressive and looks well prepared. We have an impressive county staff, and your diligence in reviewing their budget is appreciated.
I’m generally in support of the budget, but have some concerns.
1) The size and the annual increase. Even though we live in a unique county, with substantial funding received from Los Alamos National Laboratory New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax, the budget is a lot of money to spend on such a small and lightly populated county. Looking at total funds, we go from $375,000 in FY22 to $448,000 in FY23, or 19.4%. This increase may prove to be prophetic in light of current inflation, but it’s big, and calls into question whether or not we are being wise with the size of county operations.
2) Even with a budget this size, I did not see any allocation to directly fund specific regional projects. Los Alamos County benefits disproportionately from LANL NMGRT, and it would seem wise, in addition to being the right thing to do, to share with surrounding communities so that the State Legislature doesn’t remedy it in future years. The regional amphitheater proposed by the City of Espanola and Rio Arriba County is an excellent example.
3) While I am not necessarily against it, I have not been convinced of the need for a Tween Center. This one comes in at $4.9 million including design. With all the talk about privilege coming from certain segments, and living in what is arguably the most privileged community based in New Mexico, this seems problematic.
4) We have heard repeatedly, and seen, how hard it is for business to operate in the county. Support for how this could be remedied might be useful. In the budgeting process, lowering taxes and County assumption of certain costs born by business, not as a direct donation to a specific business, but as part of general County operations, comes to mind.
Thank you for your service!