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The May 2, 2010 editorial, “Ordinance threatens to hamstring future councils,” does not include important information about funding capital projects. Prior to the conversion of LANL to a privately operated laboratory, large capital projects were funded through elections in which citizens approved an increase in the property tax rate to fund the projects. Essentially citizens were voting for or against a project and voters approved the swimming pool, the library and the senior center. Voters turned down the last capital project, the Civic Center, but that certainly did not “hamstring future councils.”
Because of the marked increase in the GRT revenue from a privately run LANL, voters no longer have to approve a county increase in its share of the property tax rate. The result is that voters have no say in how the county budgets for large capital projects. Two thousand voters signed the LAGRI petition requesting an election on a charter amendment that would permit a vote. The election was denied by the council, based not upon the charter, but based upon the county attorney’s opinion. Councilor Chiravalle has now weighed in on the side of those 2,000 voters and has introduced ordinance 555.
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