Los Alamos County

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Council approves realignment, budget

By Arin McKenna

The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved County Administrator Harry Burgess’ recommendation for reworking some county departments and their functions Tuesday night.

The reorganization involves:

• Merging the Community Development Department and the Capital Projects and Facilities Department into a new single department — the Community and Economic Development Department.

• Transferring the economic development function from the County Administrator Department to the new Community and Economic Development Department.

• Transferring the Airport and Environmental Services function from the County Administrator Department to the Public Works Department.

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Highlights of county code changes

By Arin McKenna

"Special plan (SP) district"

▪ Allows site development regulations in an underlying base zone to be modified up to a maximum of 25% using a special plan (SP) district; these include minimum lot area, setbacks, structural separation, structure height, lot coverage, street frontage and width of lots, and parking;

▪  Removes potential conflict over what residential site development regulations would be applied in the case of a special plan (SP) district in a downtown district zone;

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County: Restructuring is a component in filling ‘acting’ positions

Promotions mark end of holding pattern

County Administrator Harry Burgess created a stir when he announced three staff promotions and proposed a major restructuring of the Community Development Department (CDD) and the Capital Projects & Facilities Department (CP&FD) during budget hearings last week.

“Trying to fill vacant positions has been a big task, especially doing it while trying to prepare this year’s budget,” Burgess said. Nine upper management positions have been filled with “acting” staff for close to 18 months, waiting for the hire of a new county administrator. Burgess took up his post in November.

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County: Administrator weighs revenue reductions against what was achieved

Burgess satisfied with hearings

By Arin McKenna

Harry Burgess found his first budget hearings as Los Alamos county administrator very familiar.

“It’s not all that different from place to place,” Burgess said. “It’s always a balancing act. There are always more needs and desires than resources.”

By and large, Burgess was pleased with the outcome.

“Overall, I thought the process went well. We accomplished pretty much what we wanted within the time allowed. We are still within the proposed budget; we still have a plan to continue to provide the same level of service - something very important in this climate - and not reduce staff.”

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County: Available funds fall far short of meeting Capital Improvement Projects requests

CIP projects face budgetary roadblock

By Arin McKenna

The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) that are ready to move forward may face a long delay. The FY2013/FY2014 budget includes only 20 percent of the total project costs, and projections for the future are not optimistic.

Newly appointed Deputy County Administrator Steven Lynne laid out the facts. Approximately $27 million is available in the next two years. Long-term projections estimate that only $2.5 million a year will be available after that, bringing the 10-year total to $47 million.

Projects that council has taken some initial action on total $123.5 million. Most of those have received phase 2 approvals, and others, such as the community broadband initiative, are nearing that.

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Notifications: Register now with fire season underway

Cleaning up the county CodeRED system

By Whitney Jones

As part of a test of Los Alamos County’s emergency all-call notification system late last month nearly 12,000 calls were made, but County Emergency Management Specialist Phil Taylor said some of those numbers aren’t in use anymore or go to fax machines and other devices.

“We don’t need to have that thing in our database,” he said.

County residents’ home phone numbers have either been entered automatically in the Florida-based CodeRED system through commercially available data sources or residents have signed up themselves, and some of those numbers have been in the system since after the Cerro Grande fire in 2000.

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Lynne, Bosshardt named deputy county administrators

During Wednesday night’s county council budget meeting, County Administrator Harry Burgess announced organizational changes within several management positions, following his review of the various county departments and divisions and their relationship to his office. Burgess was appointed as county administrator in October 2011.

“I reviewed the organization after meeting with staff to gather input, then worked to develop the best path forward for the organization,” Burgess said after the meeting, adding that he had also taken the last few months to review the county’s strategic goals and evaluate areas where he felt the staff could take on a more active role.

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Council: Three final applicants are interviewed

County closes in on attorney pick

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County will soon pass another major milestone, as it prepares to hire an attorney to fill the spot vacated by Randy Autio in December.

The role of acting county attorney has been filled by Brian James for the better part of a year, since Autio served most of his tenure as acting county administrator. James is one of three candidates who were interviewed to take the job on a permanent basis Friday.

The county received 15 applications from as far away as Los Angeles, Calif. The three finalists are all experienced city and/or county attorneys with a range of other experience.

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Study: LA continues to score high in residents’ well being

County health ranks top in state

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County leads the state in positive health outcomes, according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a study published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
Results of the study were released just in time for National Public Health Week (April 2–8).
The study – in its third year – has ranked Los Alamos number one three years in a row. Thirty-two of New Mexico’s 33 counties are included in the survey. The Rankings are based on the latest publicly available data.

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Weather: Snow causes power outage in White Rock’s Pajarito Acres

Spring storm blankets area

By The Staff

Los Alamos residents woke up to a spring snow wonderland Tuesday as more than six inches of the white stuff fell overnight.


Plows were out early, doing their best to clear roads. And in the morning, business owners were out in full force clearing snow.
A winter weather advisory for moderate to occasional heavy snow was cancelled shortly after noon.

Residents of Pajarito Acres, in White Rock, meanwhile, have been without power since 8:30 p.m. Monday.

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Trinity Site deal signed

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Economy: Talk centers on increasing population in L.A.

Fisher makes first presentation to County Council

By Arin McKenna

The county’s new Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher discussed various economic development incentives with council Tuesday evening.

“One of the main concerns in all the county’s strategic goals, is that we need to grow the population,” Fisher said.

He recommended going for the “low hanging fruit.”

“It’s interesting to be in a community where there are more jobs than there are people. There are 7,000 or 8,000 people climbing the mountain every day to come here to work. It’s a great opportunity to get them to live here,” he said.

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CIP projects sent to administrator

By The Staff

During earlier CIP Committee meetings, Committee Chair Gary Leikness indicated that the committee’s recommendations would be given to the county administrator and projects would be selected during the budget hearings April 16-18.
However, this week the approach to be used for the CIP portion of the budget has changed. 
During the council meeting March 20, County Administrator Harry Burgess recommended that the council hold a special meeting outside of the April budget hearings to discuss specific details of each CIP Phase 2 project that is seeking funds in FY13 or future years.

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NEDO: Research project brings Smart Grid technology one step closer

Smart Meter volunteers may help shape the future

By Arin McKenna

Homeowners have the chance to participate in a research project that could shape the way we use energy in the future.
The Department of Public Utilities is seeking 100 volunteers to participate in a smart meter study conducted by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.
NEDO will use the information to build a database of energy use patterns in America. “This is all about gathering data for research,” said Deputy Utility Manager Janet Bettinger.  “Volunteers will be part of a world famous project. They’re trying to set standards up for smart meters and the smart grid.”

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County to test CodeRed Thursday

Los Alamos County will conduct a test of its CodeRED emergency notification system at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday. The county contracted with Emergency Communications Network to license its CodeRED high-speed notification solution in November of last year. The CodeRED system provides county officials the ability to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas or the entire county.

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