Steve Lynne in his office Tuesday at the Municipal Building. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Steve Lynne has worn several hats during his 25 years working for Los Alamos County but recently put on a new one – Acting County Manager.
Before stepping into the position after Harry Burgess retired, Lynne served as Deputy Manager. His previous titles include Administrative Services Department Director, Chief Financial Officer and Budget Officer.
The biggest difference between Lynne’s newest position and being Deputy Manager is now “the buck stops here” at his office.
“It’s just fundamentally different in that there’s no County Manager to go to,” Lynne said.
He has a higher level of responsibility, but Lynne said he feels pretty comfortable in his new position.
It helps that the County has great employees, Lynne said.
“It’s the teamwork … I think we’ve got really good staff,” he said.
When he runs new employee orientations, Lynne said he makes sure to highlight how important teamwork is in serving citizens.
In addition, Lynne said the County serves really great people.
“The other aspect is … all the citizens we work with,” he said. “It’s really nice – that small town feel. You know a lot of the citizens. They are very engaged, which makes the work more interesting.”
In his 25 years in Los Alamos, Lynne has experienced a lot: wildfires, blizzards, floods and of course the pandemic.
Lynne said he remembers post Cerro Grande Fire when he worked with the Office of Cerro Grande Fire Claims and helped manage more than $120 million of relief funds that were used, in part, to restore the County’s infrastructure and to help prevent any future disasters.
The Cerro Grande Fire was challenging, he said, but everyone in the County stepped up.
Throughout everything Lynne has experienced with the County, he said he has learned a thing or two.
“Just always be ready for something unexpected and new,” Lynne said, adding that it can be anything from a natural disaster to a wonderful new idea.
“It is very full spectrum,” he said. “We have to be able to adapt.”
It also is important to remember what the County government is here to do – serve the community, Lynne said.
“That customer focus – that’s why we show up to work,” he said. “We just need to constantly remember that.”
The County has a lengthy list of projects to best serve its residents.
One of the major things is the County’s efforts in response to COVID.
Lynne said the County received its allocation of American Rescue funds, which he said is just under $1.9 million. This is 50 percent of the total amount the County will receive.
“There is plenty of COVID recovery still to address, certainly in the small business community,” Lynne said.
Another major focus is the County Council’s strategic goals, which include housing.
Work is underway to achieve this goal through projects such as the North Mesa Housing study and the apartment complexes being constructed on DP Road, Lynne said.
In addition to housing, another major goal is economic development and revitalization of the downtown areas, he said.
Projects included in this goal are the Metropolitan Redevelopment Act (MRA) in White Rock, which council approved during its Tuesday night meeting, the downtown master plans for White Rock and Los Alamos and the revisions in Chapter 16 of the County Code, which addresses development.
The County is dealing with a few major issues internally, too. Lynne pointed that there has been a lot of turnover in staff.
The County has faced many challenges during Lynne’s time working for local government, but he pointed out there has been successes, too.
For instance, the County’s strategic planning process improved and with its increase in gross receipt taxes due to LANL, Lynne pointed out that the County could afford to do more improvements to its infrastructure and complete more capital improvement projects.
The improvements to the strategic planning process were a personal highlight, Lynne said.
“I think being part of the strategic planning process changes – that’s one I think was significant … it really provided a foundation for things that followed,” he said.
Another personal highlight was the relationships that have been built over the years, Lynne said.
“On a more personal note, having built those relationships externally and internally – I think that’s really important given how small we are and also how complex we are,” he said.
Lynne added some changes were more in the nature of adding programs such as combined dispatch, adding Atomic City Transit and creating the County’s social services division.
“Just operationally there has been significant changes,” Lynne said.
Lynne said he grew up in southern Florida and he moved to New Mexico in 1994. He was hired by the County in 1996. Lynne is married to Suzanne Lynne, who is the principal at Los Alamos Middle School.
He emphasizes he is available to the community whenever they have a question or a concern.
“From the perspective of any citizens that have any concerns, they should know I am here, and they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out,” he said.