Compared to last year’s furor over how cutbacks necessitated by reduced Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) would affect services, the Los Alamos County FY2015 budget hearings have been relatively subdued.
Councilor Kristin Henderson admitted that several of her queries were unrelated to budget, such as questions about how many users the golf course has and questions about fire mitigation and whether burned trees from the Las Conchas fire pose a fire hazards.
Other councilors directed their questions to the issues at hand.
Many of those questions centered on changes in the Health Care Assistance Program (HCAP) due to the Affordable Care Act and the passage of SB268, which replaces the Sole Community Provider program with the Safety Net Care Pool.
Deputy County Administrator/Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne reported last night that the county must pay $1.1 million into that pool, with approximately $800,000 of that covered by GRT previously committed to the Sole Community Provider Fund.
Councilor Pete Sheehey took the opportunity to speculate on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act and SB268, but other councilors asked for clarification of the changes.
Although it is too early to assess how changes in healthcare law will affect HCAP, Social Services Manager Kim Gabaldon was able to report some hopeful trends.