Letter To The Editor: The Lab, The County, And GRT

Los Alamos


I think the county has been looking at the Lab GRT issue as the glass being half empty verses being half full.

If the government would have closed down the Lab after WWII and moved out of town, Los Alamos would most likely now be a one horse town at the end of the road. The major employer would most likely be a seasonal boys ranch. Because the Lab stayed in business the county has over 18,000 population with about 8,000 households and a proportionate number of businesses/commercial properties to service this population.

The population pays sales taxes on the goods and services received to the multiple businesses in town, who in turn pay GRT. The households and commercial developments pay property taxes and fees.

Considering the Lab buys goods and services in conducting business, and many of these goods and services providers are located in the county, there is also a revenue stream from the GRT these businesses pay on income received for their goods and services sales to the Lab.

I am not mentioning the thousands of people who daily pass through town going/coming from work at the Lab who stop and purchase goods and services before continuing on to homes outside the county.

This all adds up to a revenue stream to the county that most likely would not exist without the Lab. Considering that the utilities in town theoretically are paid for by utility bills, most of the road construction has financial help from state and federal funds, some roads are owned and maintained by the state, services from the county/municipal entities are covered by fees, there may not be much of a case for the argument about county expenses being higher because of the Lab.

The county has expenses because of the people and businesses in town. These people/businesses, because of the taxes and fees paid, should pay for the operation of the county. The Lab uses minimal county services, and these services are usually covered by fees. If the county is short of money, they need to look at the higher than normal maintenance and bond repayment schedules incurred in the past to build overpriced facilities.

Which brings me to my point. The county needs to learn to live within their sustainable means. It is nice to have extra money from the Lab for “nice things” with short repayment terms, but otherwise the county needs to act like a normal county. Before building a municipal building with a 3 story entrance, 5 star country club style golf clubhouse, an indoor pool with a great deal of exposed wood on the interior (wood and water do not live well together), and a library that looks like a bird with a resulting plethora of unusable space, and in the process making architects famous using public dollars, I would suggest some fiscal responsibility for council oversight of the county.

A good start would be to evaluate the cost of any new county facility against the average cost of the same type of facility in other towns of similar population. Use this average cost as a baseline and figure out how to get the utility desired from the estimated cost. Remember that every change in wall surface and roof line adds money to the cost. A good example of this principle being thrown out the window is the county courthouse/police station.

The Lab is good for business and the county, do not spill any water from the glass by trying to put more foam on your Cappuccino.