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County councilors’ discussion at their last budget hearing focused on Capital Improvement Projects. Tonight they will switch gears and focus on departments’ operating budgets.
It has been said before that the county spends money freely where capital projects are concerned. In fact, the cost of some CIP projects, such as the Judicial/Police/Jail Complex, have gone up in price, a move that some residents disagree with.
One such resident is Jerry Beery who, at the last budget hearing, spoke out to council regarding his concerns with the county’s spending.
“We shouldn’t be spending at that rate. We’re digging a hole for future generations,” he commented. He continued to discount the possibility of the Trinity Site project coming to fruition.
“Boyer will never sign on. They won’t get the funding to do it.”
Despite Beery’s concerns, a good portion of the CIP projects were approved, albeit tentatively.
Members of the Los Alamos Pony Club also attended the meeting and spoke briefly to councilors about why they needed a covered arena at the horse stables. Despite their comments, the covered arena will have to wait a bit longer.
Though quite a few of the projects were given the green light, there were still a few that didn’t make the cut for this year. Those projects included:
• Airport fencing – $306,377
• Ashley Pond park pavilion – $20,000
• SW Reading and research room at the Mesa Public Library – $102,850
• Horse stables covered arena – No dollar amount given
• Deacon street improvements – $20,000
• Senior center second story addition – $1,393,610
• Bathtub Row traffic management – $100,000
• Tennis facilities improvements – No dollar amount given
Total cost: $1,942,837
The projects that got the green light from council totaled lower dollar amounts.
• The North Mesa Ball Field lights electric design – $80,000
• Golf course clubhouse – $150,000
• Historical archives and county record archives – $200,000
• Aquatic Center leisure pool – $50,000
• Art Center building safety improvements – $50,000
• White Rock gateway structure – $50,000
• White Rock visitors center and RV Park – $200,000
• White Rock Arroyo Trail – $100,000
• White Rock State Road 4 improvements study – $500,000
Total cost: $1,380,000
In addition, the approved projects will add up to approximately 140 total staff hours per week.
Councilor Robert Gibson was concerned about having enough staff members to cover these projects.
“Do we have enough staff on board to execute these projects?” he asked.
County Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne reassured Gibson that the projects would be covered.
“There’s a good balance between available staff and these requirements,” he responded.
During final comments at the last budget hearing, Councilor Vincent Chiravalle brought up the subject of Trinity Drive and spoke out against redesigning it.
“We have to think very carefully about that,” he said regarding the Trinity complete streets redesign. “I like it the way it is.”
He did, however, say that he was in favor of improving the tennis facilities. “There’s a need to fix the tennis courts,” he commented.
The budget hearings will continue tonight at 7 p.m. in council chambers. PAC-8 will broadcast the meeting and it will also be available for streaming on the Internet.