Budget hearings begin Monday

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By Jennifer Garcia

The deadline for filling federal taxes may have just passed, but money talk is far from over for Los Alamos County. In fact it’s just getting started.

The county’s budget hearings will begin on Monday at 7 p.m. in council chambers. A slew of financial topics will be discussed, including strategic planning, the budget summary, fund statements, department summaries and performance measures and capital improvements, to name a few.

The total revenues and other sources in the FY 2010 budget are projected to be $181.7 million. This is an increase, compared to last year’s adopted budget, which weighed in at $176.5 million.

There are a number of components that contributed to he $5.2 million change.

“There is an increase in general revenues,” County Accounting Manager Joe D’Anna said. “There are some increases and some decreases because of one-time activity,” he continued.

One of the major changes is that the revenues in the general fund are projected to be $12.8 million higher in FY 2010 than they were in the FY 2009 adopted budget.

Most of the change can be attributed to a $12.6 million increase in gross receipts taxes.

These GRT taxes have increased because of a change in accounting and partly because of increased spending at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

However, the increase is not expected to be maintained over time and the county has programmed the use for mainly one-time only capital projects.

Though the economy has been shaky for much of the country, D’Anna said that his department has not noticed a large decrease in revenues because the county budget is tied to gross receipts tax for the most part.

“The one that affects our revenues would be the gross receipts tax and that hasn’t seen a decline. We’re always wary because it’s tied to what’s up at the lab. We don’t decide what their spending is. Their spending varies greatly depending on what their CIP projects are,” he said.

The budget summary released by the county outlined a projected a half-million dollar increase in the Special Revenue Funds for the FY 2010 budget, compared to the adopted FY 2009 budget.

This also includes a $0.3 million increase in loan repayments in the Economic Development Fund (formerly called the Self Sufficiency Fund), based on terms for scheduled repayment and a $0.2 million increase in GRT revenue in the Indigent Health Care Fund.

There was a decrease of $2.7 million in the Debt Services Funds because of a change in the accounting for GRT to fund debt services. There was a total of $2.7 million in GRT revenue that was budgeted directly into the Debt Services Funds in the FY 2009 adopted budget.

This increment of GRT revenue was moved to the General Fund through an FY 2009 budget revision. Future debt service will be funded through transfers from the General Fund, according to the budget summary.

Budget hearings are open to the public and will be held on the following days: Monday, overview and elected officials’ budgets; Tuesday, capital projects discussion; Thursday, operating budgets for departments. Another meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 28, to continue discussion of operating budgets, but may not be held if discussions conclude on Thursday.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will also be broadcast live on PAC-8, or available for streaming on the Internet.