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I went to the county building today to drop off my ballot, voting against the latest tax levy. It seems like every year we are asked to support yet another levy, for worthy causes such as school building upgrades, UNM-LA and the like.
My husband and I work very hard for our money and are not upper-echelon labbies that bring home the big bucks … these tax hikes have a real impact on our budget. In the past five years, my taxes have increased $616. The latest levy would increase that another $168.
We do not have unlimited funds, and even if we did, I do not trust the county to use my tax dollars wisely. Take a gander at the “Taj Majal” projects we’ve had thrust upon us in recent years: The White Rock Visitor’s Center, the Justice Center, the new Municipal Building, the Golf Course Clubhouse, Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School are all good examples. It seems that every project must be grander than the one before, and the sky is apparently the limit.
Doesn’t that new municipal building strike you as out of scale (in many ways) for a county our size? (Huge, but still not enough room to house Fire Admininstration so they have to rent space across the street!) The Justice Center is 44,000 square feet, and cost a cool $402 a square foot to build. Yet, the Teen Center squats in a church basement and runs on a shoestring.
But I digress … What do the Visitor’s Center, the High School, the Justice Center and the Municipal Building all have in common? High, soaring architecture and loads of wasted space.
I wish that were a knock-knock joke, but it’s just not funny, is it? I don’t disagree that some of these buildings needed to be built, but there seems to be no sense of function over form.
Let’s talk about the new Golf Course Clubhouse. We all know that we heavily subsidize each and every round played at the golf course. Even so, revenues were down almost 11 percent in 2012, and we lose $730,000 a year on the golf course. So, what is the answer to a money pit? Put a $5.3 million dollar clubhouse on it! Makes sense, doesn’t it? Oh wait, it doesn’t.
That brings me back to my point — our county can’t be trusted to use our tax money wisely, and as a result, we have gargantuan “blue whales” all over the county that we lose money on annually. There is no end in sight either…