Two months ago, County Administrator Harry Burgess put Capital Improvement Projects on hold after it was revealed that the County faced an unexpected GRT funding shortfall. Some of the projects on hold include: Ashley Pond Improvements; New Teen Center; and the New Nature Center.
The Los Alamos Daily Post obtained the following message that Burgess sent yesterday to Project Managers, Sponsors and Stakeholders of Capital Projects approved in 2012:
A Message from County Administrator Harry Burgess
To All Project Managers, Sponsors and Stakeholders for Capital Projects Approved in 2012 for Design & Construction:
If you have been actively tracking progress being made on your project, I am sure by now that all of you are aware that on January 29, I will be bringing Council some recommendations to address shortfalls in revenue in FY13, and to hear from Councilors what steps they think we should take to address continued reductions in revenue for FY14. I have had several questions from project managers and sponsors about the agenda and my presentation to the Council on the 29, especially with respect to approved capital projects, and decided to contact all of our project teams with one message to address these questions.
Understandably, you are concerned about cuts being made to capital project funds that might impact your project scope, or project deferrals being made that would slow down progress. At this time, I do not expect to make any specific recommendations to the Council on a particular capital project, nor will I suggest that the Council revisit decisions made in 2012 for project selection.
The previously seated Council found that the projects they selected to proceed to design and construction in FY14 and future years addressed a community need, maintained our existing infrastructure, or added a valuable new amenity. I expect the newly seated Council to concur with the project list; they would like to see all of the projects accomplished. Unfortunately, our current budget situation will not support spending as planned to carry all of the projects forward at the same time. Thus, I do plan to recommend deferring some, but not all, of the projects for FY14. This will give us the opportunity to monitor our financial situation and decisions yet to be made at the federal level for LANL budgets.
The meeting on Jan. 29 will not solely focus on capital projects. For example, I have a variety of suggested actions for using some of our reserves, cutting expenditures, refinancing debt, or contemplating increases in taxes or user fees that I will offer to the Council to consider. This is intended to be a very high level, policy-focused discussion. I hope the Council will share their thoughts and budget guidance regarding “where” they would like to see the County make changes to address the current budget deficit.
I do not expect the Council to make any decisions on Jan. 29 about the future of any particular capital project. With just one evening dedicated to budget discussions and many items to cover (of which capital project funding is just one portion of the County’s budget), it is likely that the Council will hold a separate Council meeting dedicated to capital project funding decisions. For those of you who have asked about opportunities for public comment to speak in support of your projects, that later meeting would be the better venue. There will be more opportunities to comment over the next few months, too. FY14 budget recommendations will be delivered to Council at the end of March, and then budget public hearings with the Council in April will lead to the final budget we adopt in May.
Thanks for your patience and understanding these last two months as we placed projects on hold awaiting Councilor input and direction.
Editor’s note: For more information on Capital Projects see http://www.losalamosnm.us/projects/Pages/default.aspx.