County Council works on smoothing out CIP process

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By Kirsten Laskey

Should something you want be placed beside something you need?

Los Alamos County employees posed this question in regards to the capital improvement project (CIP) process. County councilors wondered the same thing.

During the regular council meeting Tuesday, councilors recommended that Rick Bohn, Community Development director, look into including two parallel processes for CIP.

County Council Chair Mike Wismer explained to the Monitor the council was interested in considering two processes – one for county-driven projects and another process for citizen-driven projects.

Wismer said in the current CIP cycle, the White Rock community is working on a visitor center. In the same process, the deteriorating and unsafe clubhouse at the Los Alamos Golf course is being addressed.

Wismer said the idea is to take existing methods for capital planning and build on that.

Bohn said there will be gray areas between the processes. The council will exercise discretion if a project has a great interest and importance to the community.

There was also some discussion to look further into the cost threshold for projects in the CIP process. Bohn said the current threshold is $50,000. It was suggested to raise the amount to $447,559.

Another recommendation the council made was to be given clarification on the roles of the CIP Project Evaluation and Oversight Committee. The objective is to help citizens know what their roles are on the committee, Wismer said.

The new CIP process kicked off in 2008. Additions included a seven-phase approach to project development and construction and more community participation through the new CIP Project Evaluation and Oversight Committee.

Five community members are recommended for the committee. They are Don Brown, Terry Goldman, Denise Lane, Dave Schiferl and Carl Thornton.

Bohn said the current process is “going very well.” He said the last application period, which ended Dec. 31, 2008, had the first set of applications under the revised process. Testimony from the public was taken and “real thorough” discussions were held, Bohn said.

Wismer added the council tried to involve the public in the CIP process to make it as transparent as possible.

“I believe the staff has tried really hard to advertise every step of the process (and) I believe the staff has tried to make the CIP process as transparent as possible,” he said.

Any future steps taken to enhance the process will not affect projects in the current CIP cycle, Wismer added.

“We’re just looking to continually improve on what we think is a good process,” he said.