Capital projects on the chopping block

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The Los Alamos County Council will have a discussion during its Feb. 19 meeting to decide which capital projects approved for design and construction in May 2012 will move forward or be deferred.
The 7 p.m. meeting in council chambers was moved from a work session in White Rock to a regular session in Los Alamos so that the session can be televised.
Due to budget shortfalls, council gave the staff budget guidance on Jan. 29 to defer up to $12.5 million in capital project costs and delay projects up to four years for some of these eight approved projects:
Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess released information about the upcoming Council discussion regarding capital projects.
The only projects that will be considered for deferral are the eight projects approved in May 2012. They are:
• Ashley Pond Park
• Teen Center
• Nature Center
• Eastern Area Sound
• Golf Course improvements
• White Rock Civic Center (as modified)
• Canyon Rim Trail and Ice Rink improvements.
The purpose of the discussion is budgetary— projects will not be revisited during this meeting for a reduction/change in scope of work.  
A message was sent to all eight-project teams asking that they submit written comments to the council in advance of the Feb. 19 meeting, stating the reason(s) they believe their project should proceed this year. Burgess said that county staff will prepare information for council regarding a variety of decision criteria, including: project cost, impacts of deferral (i.e. increased construction costs, programmatic needs), project schedule, compliance with strategic goals, and projected operational expenses (utilities, maintenance, lease costs, contractual support, or other associated costs). The format for the Feb. 19 meeting will be:
• Staff presentations, followed by Councilor clarifying questions.
• Public comment will then be requested.
• Following this, the council will consider public comments and staff presentations, and a vote to adopt the revised list of projects is expected by the close of the meeting.
In order to keep the meeting moving toward final decisions, each individual will have up to three minutes to address the council during the public comment period. The list of capital projects approved on Feb. 19 will be used to complete the FY 14 budget preparation process and to allow for budgetary planning into future years. As Burgess noted in his e-mail to the project teams: “It must be acknowledged that current revenue projections could change in response to the implementation of “sequestration” at the federal level, in which case all County budget decisions could be subject to re-evaluation.”
The meeting will be streamed live on PAC-8 Feb. 19, or it can be streamed on the council’s webpage at losalamosnm.us.
Citizens interested in emailing the council with their input on the list can do so at countycouncil@lacnm.us.