Today's News

  • NNSA manager optimistic about LANL budget

    National Nuclear Security Administration’s field office manager in Los Alamos Kim Davis Lebak talked with local leaders last week about next year’s budget, the status of the Los Alamos National Security contract, and various environmental and construction projects the NNSA will oversee.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory could receive more money for its billion-dollar budget than last year’s budget, Lebak said.
    President Barack Obama’s requested budget for LANL is $2.2 billion, compared to this year’s enacted budget of $1.95 billion.
    “That a nice, strong hardy budget,” Lebak said. “Our friends in Congress are doing their work was we speak... it’s a good solid budget, it’s strong, and we have tons of scope to do.”
    She also talked about the NNSA’s total budget, using numbers directly from president’s budget request to Congress.
    For fiscal year 2017, President Obama requested $12.9 billion for the NNSA, which is $357 million more than the enacted budget of 2016.

  • Council approves FY2017 budget

    Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved a fiscal year 2017 budget of $188,398,147 Monday.
    After four previous nights of wrangling over budget options proposed by each department, the vote for final budget approval proceeded without additional discussion.
    After the vote, several councilors applauded the process for this year’s budget hearings. Council had asked staff to present a flat budget, along with optional items for approval.
    Each department presented the flat budget as requested, then made their case for additional areas they felt required more funding.
    Some of those requests were new, such as the option to create a placeholder for a full-time county clerk’s salary (council will consider whether to change the clerk’s position to full time at a later meeting) or  $56,672 to staff the new kitchen at the White Rock Senior Center.
    Other requests were to restore funding that had been cut in order to maintain a flat budget. One such request was to return $29,677 to the Los Alamos Police Department’s budget in order to fully fund anticipated overtime. The Community Services Department asked for inflationary increases for contracts with service providers such as the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Family Strengths Network so they would not have to reduce services.

  • Today in history May 5
  • Council OKs pay hikes

    During last week’s budget hearings, the Los Alamos County Council voted 6−1 to approve $428,674 to bring approximately 100 county salaries in line with the market. Vice Chair Susan O’Leary opposed the motion.
    County Manager Harry Burgess explained the reason for the request. According to personnel regulations approved by council, staff is required to conduct a market study comparing the county’s salary structure to other counties every four years, and to propose adjustments if appropriate.
    The Human Resources Division recommends positions for evaluation that have issues such as difficulties with recruitment.
    This year’s market study revealed several positions that were being compensated below market values, some as many as four or five grades below parity.
    According to Burgess, raising salaries for those positions also affects job “families.”
    “So if you have a certain position such as an equipment operator, it also typically moves parallel with an apprentice operator as well as a senior operator…We want to have appropriate spread between the various grades to incentivize people to promote through the ranks,” Burgess said.

  • LAPS gets top spot in national report

    Los Alamos Public Schools have once again received a high ranking in a national study conducted through the U.S. News & World Report news magazine and website.
    The Los Alamos Public School District was ranked top public district in New Mexico. Los Alamos High School was ranked fourth in the state by the national magazine.
    The U.S. News & World Report’s “Ranking and Advice” issue and survey is a 30-year tradition of national magazine.
    LAPS’s rankings were noted in the “Education Rankings” section.
    “For public schools, we’re No. 1, because the other schools were charter schools and they’re able to get a higher ranking, because they’re smaller,” said Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus.
    Steinhaus said he found out about the achievement like everyone else, through the website at usnews.com.
    The publication has been coming out with the annual survey and ranking issue since 1983 as way to give its readers the best choice in whatever it is they’re seeking, whether that’s a new car, medicine or education.

  • Former chief files response

    Attorneys for former police chief Wayne Torpy recently replied to an insurance company’s claims that he violated a clause in its contract that caused the insurance company “Union Surety  and Indemnity Company,” to discontinue long-term health benefits to the retired former chief.
    The clause stated that Torpy would be given the benefit (60 percent of his monthly salary) if he became disabled and could no longer work.
    Torpy became disabled in 2012 after suffering a heart attack and a stroke. Torpy was Los Alamos County’s police chief for eight years. He officially retired in 2013.
    While the insurance company initially paid Torpy his long-term benefit, it ceased after USIC reps said he was also receiving benefits from a “government plan,” which apparently are not allowed under the contract he signed when he signed on as chief. USIC claims the government plans were retirement benefits he was receiving from his previous job as deputy chief of the Melbourne Police Department in Florida.
    “The pension the plaintiff receives from Melbourne is not paid to him by a government entity. It does not meet the definition of a government plan,” according to a statement from his attorneys. “Plaintiff was fully vested in the plan before his employment (with Los Alamos) began.”

  • Central Ave. work delayed

    Los Alamos County has rescheduled the warranty work on Central Avenue because of inclement weather.
    Starting May 9, the contractor will begin asphalt warranty work at the corner of Central Avenue and 20th Street. Motorists can expect flagging operations from 20th Street to Bathtub Row through May 11.
    The public is asked to contact the Public Works Department at 662-8150 or send an email to lacpw@lacnm.us, if they have questions.


  • State seeks input on LANL’s hazardous waste

    New Mexico Environment Department officials from the department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau met with the public Thursday about waste cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The 2005 Compliance Order of Consent defines how hazardous waste areas at LANL are conducted. It was agreed to by the New Mexico Environment Department, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Regents of the University of California and LANL and is now under review.
    NMED and other partners agree that through data gathered during the initial stages of the cleanup, changes could be made to make hazardous waste cleanup safer and more efficient.
    NMED is in the process of gathering public comments about those changes, according to NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn.
    “What we’re trying to do here is to take the consent order, which has been effective in certain areas, and try to make it more effective, building upon a decade of experience that we now have,” Flynn said. “Time changes, technology evolves, and you learn more as a regulator how to more effectively control pollution at a facility.”
    The original 2005 order predicted that the entire cleanup would be completed by 2005, but that was before the underground chromium plume was detected on LANL property and other complications developed.

  • Barranca Elementary plan moves forward

    The Los Alamos Public School District’s $22 million plan to renovate and redesign Barranca Mesa Elementary School passed a crucial step last Friday when the Public School Capital Outlay Council voted to consider the district’s plan.
    The Public School Capital Outlay Commission is a state commission that approves state funding for school construction projects. The commission provides a 43 percent match for school buildings that meet the criteria.
    That would be about $9 million in funding for a project the administration estimates will cost $21 to $22 million. The district plans to provide the rest of the funding through a general bond election in 2017, with some leftover bond funds from the Aspen Elementary School renovation, which was completed in 2014.
    The school district is in the middle of updating the district’s seven schools, some of which haven’t received a major overhaul since the 1950s. It is doing so through general bond elections, where the district asks the public to vote to release a certain number of general obligation bonds to pay for the project.
    So far, Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos Middle School and Aspen Elementary School have received funding since the overhaul began in 2009.

  • Today in history May 2