By PETE SHEEHEY
Los Alamos County Councilor
Los Alamos is fortunate to have organizations that serve many needs of our citizens, as well as creative entrepreneurs developing new businesses.
As these operations grow, additional funding may be needed. In some cases, the County can supply such funding through the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA), or the County can potentially contract with and compensate a business for providing needed governmental services, if the budget allows.
Los Alamos Resolution No. 10-18 (July 20, 2010) “Policy for Use in Consideration of County Funding Requests Received from Non-County Organizations” is the latter approach. The Resolution can be found on the County Clerk’s Online Records Website (https://www.losalamosnm.us/government/elected_officials/county_clerk/government_records).
The Resolution makes clear that, because of the NM State Constitution’s “anti-donation” clause, the County cannot provide direct financial assistance to non-public entities. First, it must be determined that the service proposed is a governmental service which the County should provide to its citizens. Then, if the County cannot provide the service with its own employees, it may contract for it through a competitive procurement process.
The Resolution prescribes an application to the County Manager:
- Describe the service, targeted population, and why the County should provide it;
- Identify results of the service which will be measured and reported;
- Define how any County funds will be used;
- Summarize organization’s previous successful delivery of the service;
- Detail the organization’s capacity to deliver; and
- Provide any other information requested by staff for evaluation.
The County Manager will evaluate the proposal and present a recommendation to Council on its appropriateness and affordability. Council then decides whether the County should provide the service, and if so, directs that competitive procurement, and budget adjustments if necessary, be done.
The Local Economic Development Act approach is implemented in County Code Chapter 2, Article VI (link at the bottom of the County’s home webpage “Charter & Municipal Code”). LEDA projects are required to improve the local economy, through creation of new jobs or enhancing diversified business growth and development (see also https://www.losalamosnm.us/government/departments/economic_development).
An application is submitted to the County Manager’s office describing the financial and practical feasibility of the project, the public benefit, a cost-benefit analysis, and how it meets the County’s strategic goals. If Council approves, a detailed project participation agreement is entered into describing the project goals, substantive contributions from the County and applicant, a schedule with measurable annual performance objectives, and security for the County’s investment in case the applicant reneges on its obligations.
LEDAs involving large amounts of money or property can have terms of 10 years or longer, with the obligation to repay the County’s investment gradually being reduced as the project is executed and provides the benefits agreed upon. Security for a project is in the form of a lien, mortgage, or other indenture, and the pledge of financial and material participation and cooperation to guarantee performance of the agreement. Projects involving smaller amounts of money may have shorter terms, perhaps a year or two, with correspondingly smaller security obligations.
Organizations that have been doing work in the community, provided services in an efficient manner, successfully applied for grants or other support, found an appreciative audience, and shown the potential for growth are in a much stronger position to apply for County support.
Applications under Resolution 10-18 or LEDA might be submitted at any time, but how quickly county staff and Council can respond depends upon how many other issues are on the county’s agenda. If a proposal is well developed by March (including at least one round of feedback between staff and applicant), it can be considered before the Council’s yearly budget hearings each April.
When scheduled for consideration at a Council meeting, the proposers should make a concise presentation and answer any questions. Community support, evidenced by supporting letters and meeting attendance, is also important. I am happy to provide further information, to the best of my knowledge (email@example.com).