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When the topic of the Self-Sufficiency Fund (now renamed as the Economic Vitality Fund) comes up, a common perception seems to be that the fund’s investments have been money down the drain. However a closer look at the fund’s successes and failures would appear to contradict that assessment.
The Self-Sufficiency Fund was created when the United States Congress decided that the Department of Energy should stop making yearly assistance payments to the county to compensate for the loss of property taxes and gross receipts taxes the county would normally receive from an entity the size of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Sen. Pete Domenici argued for a one-time payment large enough to help the county invest in projects that would create a revenue base in years to come. Congress approved a transfer of $22.6 million from the DOE to the county for that purpose in the early 1990s.
Some of the fund was transferred to the Airport, Fire and Water Funds to finance initial improvements associated with assuming operation of those systems from DOE.
Other expenditures built foundations for economic development, such as preparing the Trinity Site and other land transfer projects for development.
A large portion of the fund lay dormant and earning interest for several years as the county assessed how to use it most effectively.
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