On Tuesday, April 17, the Los Alamos County Council adopted a $188 million budget for the FY ’19. I was fortunate to catch the first part of the budget hearings, but unfortunately could not make the second session due to assisting with wildlife issues in my role as chair of the Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation.
First, I would like to thank the County Council and the county departments for taking the prudent step of offering a flat budget this fiscal year. Until more is known about the path of the LANL contract, and current projections gearing toward 60-67 percent of our general fund lost with a non-profit contractor, it is better we do not increase our spending unless necessary.
In the end, there were some interesting insights from the budget hearings.
On the first night, the council approved a temporary decrease in spending in the Parks, Recreation and Open Space. During discussion, Council Chair David Izraelevitz and Councilor James Chrobocinski offered their frustration with the decrease, and I agree with them. Of all the resources the county manages, it currently hosts more than 60 miles of hiking trails and several other open locations, and only one full time person to maintain them. In addition to the several baseball and softball fields. With a continual decrease in funding, it will continue to be difficult for the county to maintain its own land.
On the second night, the council approved around $4 million in the Public Works budget that would go to continuing the improvement of roads across the county. Like a lot of the infrastructure in the county, many of our roads are hitting the end of their useful life and need maintenance. With the upgrade not only comes a smoother ride, but also the upgrade of the utilities underneath the road, bringing further improvement to our county.
Overall, the county has done a wonderful job meeting the flat budget requirements. Although I am disappointed in the cut in Parks, Recreation and Open Space, I am happy to see the county investing in our infrastructure.
Should the LANL contract go to a for profit, this will only be temporary. If not, the current and next council will have a mountain to climb. It will be imperative that the citizens are constantly engaged and informed with the effects on the budget and services. After all, as councilors, our first responsibility is to the citizens.
As a councilor, my first and greatest priority will be listening to and communicating with the citizens. Please visit my campaign website www.vote-robinson.com and share with me what you are most concerned about in regard to Los Alamos’s future.