Monday, June 05, 2006

LANL Switch To Bring Revenue

Officials Look For Money To Stay in Area
Journal Staff Writer

With the shift in management that occurred last week at Los Alamos National Laboratory, state officials and some local governments in northern New Mexico are trying to determine how their gross receipts tax revenue will be impacted by the change.

Overall, the management shift is expected to lead to a recurring multimillion dollar windfall in gross receipts taxes for state coffers.

But some municipalities outside Los Alamos County could end up losing gross receipts tax revenue, said Tom Clifford, chief economist with the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

And Rio Arriba County Manager Lorenzo Valdez worries that the new tax burden for the lab could result in job losses that could hurt the county’s tax base.

One northern New Mexico city is calling for the governor and state lawmakers to put the new revenues in an escrow account until a decision is made on how those monies should be divvied up. Española Mayor Joseph Maestas says most of the money should be earmarked to boost such things as education, economic development and infrastructure improvements for the northern New Mexico region where the lab is based, including Española, Taos, San-
ta Fe and Los Alamos.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss agreed, saying that the tax changes could affect all local governments in the region.

“We’d like to see that (money) remain in the area,” Coss said, adding that Santa Fe is working with the counties and municipalities in the region to try to make it happen.

“We’re just going to pay gross receipts tax based on the formula,” said Kevin Roark, a lab spokesman. “How it’s spent is not up to us.”


Full Story

This issue should have been addressed years ago. UC/LANL could have negotiated to pay the GRT willingly, and gotten some agreement about how the funds would be spent, such as on the educational needs of NNM. By being such rock heads, and with the cowardice of our local legislators, like Ben Lujan, the issue was never raised.

Now the GRT will be paid, and it looks like it will just go into the trough, and be spread across the state, with NNM getting a cut with everyone else. An opportunity lost.

It just reflects that UC/LANL didn't give a damn about NNM schools, which I'm afraid is the truth. They kept insisting the paying the GRT would kill them, when the fact is that it was a subsidy to DOE, and the US taxpayers, from our poor state, and that Domenici is in position to make sure the funding will cover it. By resisting the GRT for all these years UC/LANL has, once again, made the worst of the situation. The big winner will be Los Alamos County, which gets a cut of the GRT. The richest county gets more, plus their $8 million a year for the schools.
I would hazard a guess that the $8M for schools will dry up, perhaps to be added to the LANL pot to partially (note partially) offset the GRT expense. Hence, Los Alamos County could potentially end up a net loser of revenue.
Lucky gives the impression that Los Alamos schools are "rich", I don't see the money in the education system, schools nor facilities. I have yet to see any state of the art and technological advancements that are seen in many of the communities in the U.S. Perhaps the school district should start charging an out of district fee for all of the kids coming to our schools who's parents make big bucks at the Lab and live elsewhere. Now that would add a good bit to our schools coffers. Why not? I don't know many towns that don't charge for out of district/out of town students! For too long the big bucks made in Los Alamos leave everyday and go down the hill!!
As I understand the way the $8M subsidy and how it is applied to the schools is that it comes in earmarked for Los Alamos Schools. That then allows the NM Dept. of Education to reduce what it otherwise would've allocated and distributed to Los Alamos Schools by $8M. Hence, the budget for ALL schools in NM is boosted by the DOE subsidy, not just LA schools.
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