These were my public comments at the Los Alamos County Council’s special session meeting to address a potential shortfall in gross receipts taxes (GRTs) on July 11, 2018.
Just as I predicted, the LANL contract that has been awarded to a non-profit entity. However, the loss of GRT’s may not be as severe as we might think.
1. Subcontractors are still subject to GRTs.
2. The Los Alamos Legacy Clean up Contract has brought in, many new jobs. My small business is growing from the influx of new individuals and families.
3. Non-profit management of the Lab brings the opportunity to strengthen its scientific base and missions, expand its programs, and create more jobs. More people to the area means more GRT revenues.
One thing is certain: We must adjust our budget and our spending accordingly. Prioritize the “needs” over the “wants” of our community. I urge our County Councilors not to raise property taxes or gross receipts taxes. Those on a fixed income should not be penalized for reckless spending habits over the past decade. Before 2008 and LANL GRTs, we had a safe community, world class education, and an excellent quality of life. While we appreciate the many improvements over the years, it is time to take a serious look our expenditures, and clean up the waste, fraud, and abuse of our tax dollars.
I propose the following:
1. Improve the management and efficiency of our Aquatic Center. Currently. Its revenues only bring in 20% of its expenditures, with a perpetual net loss.
2. Defund the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities. We have elected representatives who should be doing the work of the Coalition. As the Santa Fe New Mexican stated: “Its 2018 budget is $212,000, with $30,000 allotted for travel. Perhaps all involved should just save their dollars and let elected mayors, councilors and commissioners lobby individually.” Robert Trapp remarked, “It’s a terrible use of taxpayer funds…$197,000 could have been used for the betterment of all communities involved by putting it toward many common problems we all share. Start with drug abuse and move to poor education.” I agree 110%.
3. Scale back to only 1 nuisance code enforcement officer; we don’t need any more than that.
4. A modest fee increase for use of our public facilities, such as our golf course.
1. Councilor Susan O’Leary proposed “Survey Monkey” to determine the priorities of our community. Let me remind the Council that we did much better than that; we actually had an election on May 23, 2017. We had enormous public input, and the citizens told the Council that REC Bond projects were not appropriate, given the possibility of losing LANL GRTs. On December 29, 2016, she herself said, “I think the election is the survey, and we’re going to find out whether or not this community wants to pay a little more in order to have these quality of life amenities.”
2. On June 14, 2016, the Council approved a service agreement in the amount of $560,000 to design 12 recreation projects. How is it possible that the service agreement for only 1 project, the kiddie pool addition, is $509,315? Although the contract was postponed, I cannot fathom this cost. Is Cousin Vinnie getting paid off? This is an irresponsible use of our tax dollars.
3. Finally, let me remind the Council that the Los Alamos National Laboratory serves the national interest, not our island of privilege. The idea that we will force Lab management to “cooperate” with us is ridiculous!
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