Skip directly to content

LANL Director Briefs Los Alamos County Council

on September 1, 2017 - 9:11am

LANL Director Charlie McMillan briefs Council on the lab during Tuesday's regular meeting in Council Chambers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

 

LANL Director Charlie McMillan discusses the lab during Tuesday's regular council meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Community members and County staff listen to LANL Director Charlie McMillan present an update on the lab during Tuesday's regular council meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

 

Video of LANL Director Charlie McMillan's briefing to Council: https://youtu.be/7nr8AW7zHtQ

 

By KIRSTEN LASKEY

Los Alamos Daily Post 

kirsten@ladailypost.com 

 

During his briefing to the County Council Tuesday evening, Director Charlie McMillan reported that Los Alamos National Laboratory has hired 1,011 people in the last year and is on track to hire another 1,000 people this year.

As a result, there are challenges in regard to where these new employees live or want to live, McMillan said. One-third of lab employees live in Los Alamos, one-third live in the Valley and another one-third reside in Santa Fe, he said, adding that 35 percent are coming from New Mexico and they are taking jobs all across the lab from science to business.

“We are hiring across all those areas because we are seeing retirements in all those areas,” McMillan said.

McMillan also touched on the status of the request for proposals for the LANL management contract. The National Nuclear Security Administration is managing the process for the Department of Energy and the contract is expected to culminate in October 2018, according to agenda documents. McMillan said the laboratory leadership team is working to ensure the lab is strong today, strong during the transition and strong beyond the transition.

He also mentioned that the Environmental Management contract is in competition and it comprises 8 percent of the laboratory's budget.

In terms of LANL’s budget, McMillan reported that this year the budget totaled $2.5 billion; which is an increase compared to previous years. He mentioned in 2012, the budget was $2.1 billion. Looking to next year, McMillan said the budget should remain flat.

“As far as I can tell, our budget next year looks similar to this year and that’s a strong place for the lab to be,” he said, adding however that only time will tell what the actual budget will total.

Councilor Chris Chandler asked McMillan if he sees any potential hurdles facing the lab as it strives to continue to be a premier scientific institution. She also asked if the County and community could do anything to help.

McMillan said he believes almost half of the new laboratory employees are younger than 35 years old. As a result, many of these new employees have young families and would like to live in Los Alamos; they appreciate the five-minute commute to work. Another important factor is good education. He said the County could help with “ensuring an environment where quality education is valuable … that’s an important piece. When they are looking at the lab, they are looking at the school system, too.”

Housing is another big issue. McMillan pointed out there are needs on all levels of the housing scale and if people can’t find housing in Los Alamos, they will go elsewhere. He recommended that the County address the housing issue; he hears about it repeatedly at the lab.

Chandler noted that the County has made recent strides in its housing. She mentioned the residential development on parcels in White Rock and current efforts to address parcels along DP Road and the location of the former Los Alamos Site Office. Chandler pointed out Los Alamos County had invested $2 million in infrastructure improvements in support of the White Rock housing project and expects to be making additional financial committments to support development of other parcels.

She also indicated that the County offers a Homebuyers Assistance Program and Home Renewal Program. The County also has shown support for the local school district by contributing $500,000 every two years that support school projects such as the Duane Smith Auditorium renovation. All of this is possible, Chandler noted, because of the County’s healthy tax base created by gross receipt tax paid by the laboratory.

“We are one of the lab’s biggest supporters and we hope to continue to do that,” she said.

Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary commended McMillan Tuesday evening for his presentation.

“Thank you for coming tonight,” she said. “We are all eager to support the lab and it’s one of our top strategic goals ... the more information the County has about the lab’s needs, the better partner it can be.”


Advertisements