Leases approved under deadline pressure

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Expiring appraisal, slow process, state regulations all played a part

By Roger Snodgrass

The Los Alamos School Board had a tough decision to make Tuesday and not much time in which to make it.

An urgent issue had to do with the leases of school property to Los Alamos National Security (LANS), LLC, the partnership that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory. The income is an important source of revenue for the county’s educational system and particularly for the school board, because it serves as a kind of rainy-day account for emergencies and special projects.

The schools have in hand, what they consider a favorable appraisal of the four properties leased to LANS from a review conducted in November 2008, just after the sudden economic downturn and the credit crisis, but before local values had fallen.

To deal with a looming deadline, a special meeting was called for noon on Tuesday. Several members of the board arrived and expressed reluctance to make a quick decision without a careful review of the documents.

As explained by the school’s attorney Charlotte Hetherington, there was no time to lose.

“We need approval at this meeting,” she said.

A previous approval of the lease arrangements by the state board of finance had been contingent upon the understanding that the lease language did not meet the board’s approval and needed to be changed.

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