’Tis the season for money

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By The Staff

As the county gets ready to discuss its budget with the council – and us – there are some things that need understanding.

First off is the fact that the $180-million-plus budget is not really that much. From that total, you have to subtract more than $70 million from the utilities department for its budget. Utilities is a separate entity.That leaves some $110 million for the county to do everything else.“Everything else” includes providing services – from police to parks to roads – and just maintaining essential services.Ah, but there is more.We have to do work on our Capital Improvement Plan process and make sure that there is money for projects not yet included in the CIP – like the White Rock master plan or creation of a community-wide broadband network.But there is even more.Other projects already in the pipeline include the new Judicial Police/Jail Complex, the Diamond Drive reconstruction project and a major project at Airport Basin as part of the Trinity Redevelopment Project.All that needs to be funded from the general fund.This all comes at a time when there is no security as for funding, because the situation at Los Alamos National Laboratory is far from settled and just how much the lab will contribute to our tax base is far from certain.The county gets much of its funding from gross receipts taxes – which LANL now pays. But how much is an annual question.So as the county holds budget hearings on April 21, 22, 24 and 30 in council chambers, we urge the public to come and become informed before the council adopts the budget on May 13.As County Administrator Max Baker said, “The coming year will be an exciting and extremely challenging one.”We have to agree.