Los Alamos stable licensees saddled with new fees

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By Garrison Wells

The Los Alamos County Council in a split vote Tuesday night approved new annual fees for stable licensees in Los Alamos.
Starting July 1, 2011, stable fees will include:
$125 administrative fee
$200 maintenance fee for half lots
$400 maintenance fee for full lots
“I think the stables here in town are definitely a benefit,” said County Councilor Ralph Phelps, who made the motion to approve the fee changes.
The council left open the potential for additional changes, including giving power to stable owners to help reduce costs of running the facilities and getting private companies involved in the removal of manure, which is the single largest cost for the stables.
“I urge the staff to come back soon,” Phelps said.
Linda Smith, a local horse owner, said she has researched ways to trim the cost of manure removal – pegged at $53,000 a year and handled by the county – by bringing in private companies.
Several companies expressed an interest in carting away the manure and their involvement would cut costs significantly, she said. But she has had problems getting the county staff to listen to her ideas.
She also suggested that the manure, which is used as compost, could be shipped to local pueblos. They have told her they would love to have the compost, but can’t afford to transport it.
Only County Councilor Vincent Chiravalle voted against the motion, pointing out that the 25 percent hike in fees is too much.
“It seems to me the manure is a good quality product for the county,” he said.
The way it works, the manure is picked up from the stables by the county, then taken to the Los Alamos County Eco Station where it is made into compost.
It is free to local residents, but charges are applied to businesses.
Chiravelle said he feels the stables provide more benefit than the Los Alamos Golf Course and Aquatic Center because more people and a wider segment of local residents use the stable area. Local residents who attended the meeting echoed his sentiment.