Big projects underway, but where's the money coming from?

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By Jennifer Garcia

It’s no secret that Los Alamos has some big projects underway and it’s also no secret the county gets most of its money from gross receipts tax.

That money will help the county fund its operations and programs – including the recently approved list of capital projects totaling more than $159 million.

Recently, the County Council approved the skate part at Mesa Public Library location at an estimated cost $500,000.

The council also recently decided to look into the possible construction of the new municipal building at 15th Street and Trinity Drive. At this point, the county estimates that the project is going to cost around $25 million.

The price tag includes an underground parking structure, but the county’s Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne, made it clear that this is just an estimate, and the price is subject to change.

Also in the works is the Airport Basin Project, the Judicial/Police/Jail complex and the next two phases of the Diamond Drive Project. Another project underway is the animal shelter.

The JPJ complex is going to cost around $20.2 million, while phase two of the Diamond Drive project will cost approximately $5.9 million.

The animal shelter has a cost of some $1.2 million, while the Airport Basin Project weighs in at $65.4 million. The Trinity demolition project as part of the basin project is going to cost $9.7 million more.

Lynne said the county will be issuing bonds in early October for $75 million, which will go toward the Airport Basin Project, the JPJ complex, the West Jemez Bypass and the next two phases of Diamond Drive (phases three and four).

Lynne stated that some cash reserves would be used for the projects, as well. “It’s cash we’ve accumulated over the past few years from gross receipts tax,” Lynne said.

Though these projects are costly, Lynne is estimating the county will have enough money to cover all of them currently underway without leaving the county in debt. According to the Capital Improvement Program-Sources Summary, the airport basin, for example, is receiving a good portion of its money from bond proceeds.

These proceeds are $39,888,012. In addition, more funds are coming from a general fund transfer $5,600,000; self-sufficiency fund transfers $9,108,952; GRT $7,628,794; and L.A. Public Schools $3,668,527.

The JPJ project is receiving the funds from the following sources: Self-sufficiency fund transfers $500,000; bond proceeds $7,176,469; GRT $4,323,531. Diamond Drive phase two is receiving $5,875,891 from the Cerro Grande fund transfer. In addition, the L.A. skate park is receiving $505,275 from a general fund transfer.

The West Jemez Bypass is going to cost approximately $11,940,000, with $1,200,000 coming from a general fund transfer; $1,300,000 coming from federal grants; $2,000,000 coming from state grants; and $7,500,000 coming from bond proceeds. Lynne said the county has also added a section for potential projects.

“They’re not budget estimates, but rough indicators of potential magnitude,” he said. One of the projects that falls under this category is the White Rock Economic Development Plan.

County Administrator Max Baker said the White Rock plan is estimated at $20 million.

The budget for county projects is available by visiting the county website, clicking on government, departments, administrative services, office of management and budget, new 2009/2010 biennial budget; then click on capital improvement program. You can find the breakdown of projects on pages 250-252.

Sources of funding are also available by viewing this site, however, Lynne said that the numbers posted are four months old and will be updated soon, but he does not expect any major changes to the totals.