Council sets legislative agenda

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County: New appointments aim to strengthen relationships with LACDC

During its final meeting in 2012, the Los Alamos County Council addressed just two key items: setting the legislative agenda for 2013 and making two appointments to the board of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.

The state agenda includes promoting legislation that supports affordable housing, funding for MainStreet programming and health care policy and finance legislation.

Capital outlay legislation is also on the state agenda this year. The county has submitted its entire capital outlay budget as required. The top five priorities are the public safety radio system,  sewer collection system drops, A-19 affordable housing infrastructure, the White Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant plan and environmental assessment, and kitchen facilities for the White Rock Senior Center.

The county’s lobbyist Scott Scanland will also monitor any changes to municipal revenue legislation, such as proposals for local governments to “swap” GRT distribution for state income tax distribution and any changes to Sole Community Provider legislation.

Officials said they will fight any proposal that would eliminate or reduce the GRT revenue to the county from LANL-related services, changes to the state school funding formula that would adversely impact Los Alamos Public Schools, proposals that would reduce the county’s receipt of general GRT revenue and legislation that would adversely impact indigent health care revenues.

Council also supports the legislative priorities of the New Mexico Association of Counties and the New Mexico Municipal League.

Federal priorities include funding for national security and science at Los Alamos National Laboratory, environmental cleanup funding and funding and support for the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

The LANL funding request will attempt to stabilize funding and reverse the downward trend of recent years. LANL’s FY 2013 budget was reduced by 11 percent, resulting in a loss of over 700 jobs. Other Department of Energy facilities across the country received budget increases of up to 21 percent.

Seth Kirshenberg, a Washington attorney who advises the county on DOE issues, will also focus on funding for national defense, including the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility project and modernizing facilities at LANL.

The county will request $255 million for environmental cleanup at LANL.

The county will also advocate for the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and the inclusion of Valles Caldera National Preserve in the National Park System.

Council also voted to appoint Councilor David Izraelevitz and County Administrator Harry Burgess to the LACDC board.
The 1998 Project Participation Agreement for the development of the Los Alamos Research Park granted the county the right to appoint two members to the LACDC Board of Directors.

Burgess and Council Chair Sharon Stover recently met with the LACDC board and learned that the county’s two appointees, John Davies and Bill Godwin, have served more than 10 years.

Davies has not been able to actively participate since he moved to San Diego two years ago, although he continues to advise the LACDC. The board also expressed an interest in possibly appointing Godwin as a regular board member.

Appointing the county administrator and a council member supports the county’s goal of improving its relationship with the LACDC and achieving better coordination of economic development efforts.

LACDC Board Vice Chair Bill Wadt cited the success of the Los Alamos Research Park — which has yielded $17 million in private sector investment for the $800,000 the county contributed — as an example of what can be accomplished with a more active relationship.

“We would really love to revitalize the relationship between LACDC and the county,” Wadt said.
County Attorney Rebecca Ehler said there would not be a conflict of interest having county councilors or staff on the board, since they are there to promote the county’s interests. Councilor Mike Wismer was concerned that the county’s contracts with the LACDC could become an issue.

Councilor Fran Berting made the motion to approve the appointments, saying the appointments could rejuvenate the relationship between the county and LACDC.

The motion  passed 6-1, with Councilor Vincent Chiravalle voting against the motion.