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Los Alamos County 2018 Annual Report

Welcome...

...TO THE 2018 ANNUAL REPORT!

2018 has been another eventful year, with several projects and initiatives moving forward to meet the Council’s adopted goals for our community. At the top of the list is big strides taken toward meeting housing needs in Los Alamos and White Rock. Infrastructure development got underway in May on Parcel A-19, located along SR4 in White Rock. The housing subdivision (now called Mirador) will offer 160 units with 61 additional apartment dwellings. Homes should be available for purchase later in 2019. A new affordable housing project near DR Road known as Canyon Walk Apartments will add 70 units to Los Alamos by January 2020, with access to the Canyon Rim Trail leading to Smith’s Marketplace as well as easy access to bus stops. In early 2018, the new Home Buyer Program began serving applicants and 11 applications have been awarded, aiding residents in purchasing homes.

Continuing to focus on tourism, a new chartered committee began working on the Tourism Strategic Plan, which was adopted by Council in February. The committee has been working to find a new location for the Los Alamos Visitor Center, which will exit its space in Central Park Square in January. Tours “behind the fence” at LANL were offered for the first time during ScienceFest in July – a first and the beginning of gaining future access to sites used during the days of the Manhattan Project.

Work continued on advancing economic development initiatives, too. The County continued plans to expand retail businesses when it awarded a contract to Starbucks this summer after the company purchased one of six lots of County owned land at 20th and Trinity. County residents welcomed new businesses that opened, such as O’Reilley’s Auto Parts, Fleur de Lys, Petree Garden Center, LA Liquor, Bee Hive Homes – just to name a few.

Other operational excellence goals were obtained. A new roll cart program for Yard Trimmings got underway, and design of the next phase of the Canyon Rim Trail was completed. A major project for upgrading antiquated software in business, HR, payroll and utilities billing called MUNIS launched in July. In the fall, a new citizen advisory board was appointed to address concerns with code compliance, and the building safety division began seeking international accreditation.

Camp May & Pajarito Mountain overlooking the Rio Grande Valley

Work with regional neighbors and other organizations took center stage this summer, when Triad LLC was awarded the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) operations and management contract. The County continues to monitor any change in Triad becoming a non-taxable status. Capital projects designed in 2018, such as the Kiddie Pool, continue to be on hold until further status can be determined. Due to the possible impacts of a change in tax receipts, budgets for FY19 remained flat. A new council with four new councilors will be seated in 2019, and new programs and initiatives may be considered once the tax status and possibility of change is more fully understood.

As always, providing top-notch service is our number one priority. We work for you, the residents of Los Alamos County. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me. My door is always open to you.

Sincerely,

Harry Burgess

Los Alamos County Manager

2018 Top 10 Fastest Growing Micropolitan Area: #5 Los Alamos - U.S. Census Bureau

Economic Vitality & Financial Sustainability

Priority Area: Build the local tourism economy

Tourism Plan Adopted.

Los Alamos is the Gateway to Three National Parks – the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP), Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument – and this is an extraordinary tourism opportunity that is unique to our community. To support this priority goal, the County adopted a Tourism Plan (“the Plan”) in February. The Plan provides direction to the County and its partners on decisions relating to tourism, community investment, cultural opportunities and physical development. It links Economic Development initiatives and goals that consider all tourism assets, marketing efforts and impacts. Having this kind of Plan is essential, because growth in tourism attractions continues to increase. In 2018, attraction revenue is up 7% and Lodgers’ Tax revenues increased 6%. A Tourism Task Force made up of 11 community and staff members meets monthly to implement the adopted Plan. This year, their initial focus was on the move of the Los Alamos Visitor Center. The center will move to the Community Building in 2019, in space formerly occupied by the Cooperative Extension office. Other Plan elements – as well as a complimentary Wayfinding Plan that was completed this summer - are awaiting funding and could be considered in the FY20 budget. The highest priority for funding within the Wayfinding Plan is the replacement or addition of signage to help visitors find attractions and parking.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park Enjoys an Increase in Tourism Visits

The MPNHP was a popular spot for tourists visiting Los Alamos in 2018 and the County continues to find ways to enhance that experience. An interactive plan for the historic district - including Historic Fuller Lodge and the nearby History Museum Campus – was completed in November, thanks to a $10,000 grant awarded to the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC), the Los Alamos Historical Society and the County. This new plan provides recommendations and ways to bring the history of the Manhattan Project to life for tourists strolling in and around these historic structures located in the heart of downtown Los Alamos. The plan now moves to the Historic District Preservation Advisory Board to be implemented. They will pursue breaking the plan into actions items that can be funded with additional grant monies, with a focus on enhancing the visitor’s experience on the walking tour.

Another exciting development in 2018 was to offer bus tours “behind the fence” at LANL for the first time. Tours took place during ScienceFest in July and slots were filled in less than 20 minutes after registration became available. Approximately 100 people took the tour and gave a positive review about the experience. The goal is to expand the tours in 2019, offering them the weekend before Trinity Site tours in southern NM in April and October, as well as making them available again during ScienceFest.

In addition, restoration work on the LANL sites continued to protect historic structures; National Park Service staff completed work on the historic Pond Cabin and restoration of windows on the Slotin building got underway.

ScienceFest 2018

ScienceFest Sees Surge in Vendor Participation.

Thirty programs were offered at our annual signature event, and participation by vendors nearly doubled, from 40 vendors in 2017 to 70 vendors in 2018. MainStreet organized this event, which spanned several days in July and featured a variety of interactive, fun exhibits or speakers that attracted nearly 13,000 people, many of them visitors to Los Alamos. The main event on Saturday, July 14 was renamed “Discovery Day” in line with the County’s adopted brand. The Associated Press picked up an article about the “behind the fence” park tours with a brief highlight of ScienceFest and it was distributed nationally in publications such as the New York Time, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News and US News & World Report. For the first year, Del Norte Credit Union sponsored a planning event called IMPACT training, during which exhibitors learned new ways to communicate their science to the general public to increase their impression upon Discovery Day attendees. Science of Fitness was added to the Saturday event, with a full day line-up of instructors demonstrating a variety of fitness opportunities showcasing their connection to science.

Discoveries Action Team Takes Off

Community members, organizations and businesses began meeting in April with the County’s branding consultant, Once a Day Marketing, and the Place Making and Place Marketing Subgroups have developed several concepts. Members are “champions” for the brand which incorporates the mindset that Los Alamos is a place that cultivates curiosity and creates “aha” moments and is represented by the brand line “where discoveries are made.” Team members share a desire to improve Los Alamos amenities and offerings, and communicate these benefits to future residents, businesses and visitors. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month. Discoveries Action Team goals include:

* Enhance the Los Alamos “Discoveries” experience

* Promote what makes Los Alamos unique

* Create a network of community ambassadors

* Market together with a unified voice and shared message

Team members helped support a large “Bubble Zone” at Sciencefest, as well as joining a fun “world-record” event at Chamberfest. In addition, the LACDC was able to secure a grant to fund the creation of a Brand Ambassador program, which is an item in the Brand Action Plan approved by the Council in 2017. Work on the program will get underway in 2019 and provide customer experience training and tools to those businesses and individuals interested in supporting and promoting the brand.

Bubble Zone at ScienceFest 2018
Discoveries Action Team Members

Bike trail options explored

Los Alamos is home to hundreds of great hiking and biking trails, downhill skiing, cross-county skiing, horseback riding and swimming options, ice skating, golfing and options for exploring nature. Making some of the County’s bike trails more attractive to tourists visiting Los Alamos gained some support this year with a feasibility study. Using $50,000 out of a total biking trails budget of $500,000, the County hired a trails consultant to explore canyon options to construct a new, family-friendly bike trail. Options were discussed at a Council work session in October, and further work on a few of the options is underway.

AOPA Event shows Off “Secret City”

The County hosted a “fly in” with a Secret City Tour that was attended by over a dozen pilots who were visiting nearby Santa Fe for a regional event. Atomic City Transit offered the bus tours which took visitors to the Bradbury Science Museum and downtown for lunch and the historic walking district tour. The tour met with very favorable reviews. That same weekend, the County hosted a booth at the AOPA event at Santa Fe’s airport and distributed the visitor’s guide and other materials encouraging travelers to see the attractions at Los Alamos.

AOPA Event Display
2018 Top 10 Places Where Americans Live the Longest: #8 - Realtor.com

Priority Area: Promote vitality in our neighborhoods and downtown areas and eliminate blight in Los Alamos & White Rock as part of an overall property maintenance and beautification effort.

New Advisory Board Appointed

A new Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB) was created in August, to work with Community Development Staff on review of code enforcement provisions in the County Code. These volunteers also review monthly cases in their board meetings. In October, the CDAB members did a “ride along” with CDD officials to see what the officers are looking for when surveying private properties. The board makes recommendations to Council regarding the development, implementation and enforcement of County property maintenance codes.

Addressing Commercial and Residential blight

Commercial Properties

Code Enforcement Officers have successfully addressed dilapidated exterior or structural issues, such as structural unsoundness and dangerous building and site public safety conditions, roof disrepair, abandoned vehicles, debris, and general property conditions including exterior protective covering, broken windows or overgrown weeds as well as repair issues involving Motel 6 on Trinity Drive, the 9th Street Apartments, the Hilltop House Hotel at the eastern entrance to Los Alamos, the Black Hole on Arkansas Avenue, and properties along Longview Avenue in White Rock. Working with the property owner or contractor, CDD staff and the Fire Marshal developed lists of items to be addressed and time lines to fix the items, and most properties have been brought into voluntary compliance.

Residential Properties

Code Compliance officials continue to make refinements to their notification processes and forms. In particular, they worked with the Municipal Judge on a problematic compliance case involving a re-roofing project at a home in White Rock. The property owner finally fixed the roof after several court appearances and citations. This is an exception; most property owners come into voluntary compliance once problems are identified, with only a few cases being sent to Municipal Court.

Colorful Art Dedication at the Teen Center

Filling In with Art and Green Space

Beautiful art and gorgeous green spots for rest or relaxation provide a stunning backdrop for every community

Providing outdoor art that engages not only the community, but provides a colorful, unique backdrop for tourist photos shared out across social media about Los Alamos, helps support goals to build the tourism industry by “spreading the word” about all there is to see and do in Los Alamos County. Although Los Alamos is already home to spectacular views, weaving that experience of art and green space throughout the community brings a new perspective. Beautiful art was added in collaboration with the Art in Public Places (APP) Board, the Library Board, and many community members to help to make Los Alamos County more attractive to residents and tourists. For example, the APP Board worked with an artist to create a beautiful wind sculpture display near the skate park in front of Mesa Public Library, and colorful benches and Lumi-spheres made from recycled propane tanks were added to the courtyard in front of the Community Building. The statue “Spirit Dance” was also relocated from Ashley Pond Park to the newly constructed columbarium at Guaje Pines Cemetery this Fall.

New columbarium at Guaje Pines Cemetery

Greening up

The growth of the plantings around the boardwalk at Ashley Pond Park, and continued attention to the health of the pond, brought residents and visitors to this prized park in the heart of historic downtown. Green spaces such as this help revitalize the area and provide a restful spot for families to enjoy the afternoon playing or eating a picnic dinner.

Encourage the retention of existing businesses and assist in their opportunities for growth

Main Street Expands to White Rock

Staff successfully expanded the MainStreet designation in November to include the White Rock Visitor Center/Bandelier Shuttle service area and surrounding businesses on SR4. This opens up new funding options through the MainStreet program. MainStreet Futures monthly meetings continue to provide an ideal opportunity for the County to meet with key stakeholders in the downtown business area and brief them on upcoming County initiatives or projects, such as the Tourism Plan.

Spreading the Word across New Mexico

Part of the challenge of bringing businesses to historic downtown Los Alamos is touting the amenities, attractions and businesses that can be found here. ED staff and the County Manager’s Office worked with the New Mexico Tourism Department, the New Mexico Hospitality Association and the state and national MainStreet organizations to leverage every opportunity for positive exposure to bring tourists to Los Alamos County. On November 8, the Los Alamos Nature Center received a 2018 New Mexico Hospitality Top HAT Award for Outstanding Attraction. The popular Walk and Shop Guide was updated this year. It makes it easier to direct tourists and visitors to local restaurants and shops.

Significantly improve the quantity and quality of retail business

O’Reilly’s auto parts store constructed a new building on Trinity that opened in January. The Pig + Fig Café in White Rock moved to a larger space on SR4, Petree Garden Center and Floral opened at the eastern edge of Los Alamos, and Fleur de Lys French restaurant and store opened on Trinity. LA Liquor/Knoze Jr. renovated space to open a new convenience store, Samantha D’Anna Photography opened a location, and LA Tan & More renovated their space. Flowers by Gillian renovated space in the Hilltop Shopping Center. Gentlemen’s Barber/Salon opened in White Rock and Bob’s Bodacious BBQ renovated their restaurant. Other businesses offering services for fitness, yoga and Pilates, accounting, bike repairs, computer repair/tech service and a funeral home all opened new businesses. These are just a few of those merchants who chose to open or expand retail or other businesses in the County in 2018, which has resulted in a 9% increase in retail gross receipts tax collection over the last years.

UbiQD

Support spin-off business opportunities from Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos County continues to support newly formed or upcoming businesses that are leading the industry with technologies first developed at LANL. New Mexico Consortium, a local firm that was a recipient several years ago of a Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) loan/grant from the County, continues to expand. The Economic Vitality Administrator (EVA) is working with them as they seek more space, in order to keep this successful business located here. In addition, UbiQD continues to thrive and grow at their headquarters on East Gate Drive. They were able to secure a State LEDA loan for $125,000 in 2018, partly due to previous LEDA support from the County enabling them to expand in 2017. The EVA continues to market directly to site developers and attend national shopping and retail conferences to inform them of land parcels and opportunities in Los Alamos.

Promote a strong and diverse economic base by encouraging new business growth

Land Development Moves Ahead

A Request for Proposals was issued in January 2018 for County owned property at 20th Street south of Trinity Drive, in order to sell six subdivided lots for commercial development. Starbucks purchased one of the lots (Lot 5C) and will bring a large format store with drive-through to the area next year. Interest in purchase of a second lot on 20th is being considered by another developer.

20th Street Extension

(re)Considering Kroger

The Council discussed the Kroger retail project (the build out of Smith’s Marketplace pad sites) in January and May, and evaluated options. The 2012 agreement requires during the Initial Development Period that the lessee complete development of the anchor store (Smith’s), full site development, and at least another 10,000 square feet. This was completed as agreed upon. The lessee is then required during the Subsequent Development Period to develop at least an additional 35,000 square feet within 5 years of the effective date. That benchmark was not met. The County requested that Kroger provide the County with an Amended Plan for Completion of the Undeveloped Portion. Kroger indicated in follow on conversations that the cost structure makes it difficult to find willing tenants for space leases or to construct on the two open pad sites on the western edge. The Council also requested of Kroger an update on the Mari Mac property (former Smith’s) and Kroger indicated they are in negotiations to sell off that property. The County will continue to engage Kroger on their future plans for both properties.

Wherediscoveriesaremade.com Launches

The County created an ED webpage that launched in 2018, with a variety of information and links for developers and interested businesses. The ED division continues to promote live/work/play opportunities featuring Los Alamos start-up owners in a popular site selector magazine, and Los Alamos has been featured in regional and national publications this year, thanks in part to a partnerships with the LACDC.

Conferences & Connections

The ED division hosted the statewide DisrupTECH conference at the Los Alamos Golf Course for the third year – a partnership with the local Feynman Center to provide networking opportunities for startups. The projectY co-work space in Central Park Square continues to be home to several entrepreneurs and their staff hosted a “boot camp” session on marketing plan development to assist start-ups. ED funds supported awards from the Regional Development Corporation’s (RDC) Venture Acceleration Fund for small startups. ED staff continue to recruit prospective retail, hotel and conference center opportunities. Staff actively participate in the State Tourism Board, New Mexico True advertising and branding campaign, and the Shoot Santa Fe film consortium.

Branding

Branding is an important element of the Tourism Plan; it sets the scene for the customer (the tourist) to have a great experience when they visit Los Alamos and interact with businesses and residents. As previously mentioned a new brand ambassador program will be developed by LACDC. Similar training, such as docent training by the History Museum Campus, also supports branding activities. County staff attended docent training sessions offered in 2018.

Pajarito Mountain Snow Making Machines

Pajarito Mountain Snow-Making Line

The Department of Public Utilities is managing the design and environmental approval of building a new potable waterline to Pajarito Mountain. The project is a joint effort between the County and Mountain Capital Partners (MCP), owner and operator of the ski lodge. The project will provide a reliable water supply to the ski hill for domestic water, fire protection and snow-making. The final design and draft environmental documents were completed in June, with funding received through a capital outlay grant from the State of New Mexico. DPU and MCP are working with consultants to finalize the environmental documents as required by the US Forest Service and complete the National Environmental Policy Act process to receive a special use permit for USFS.

Creative District: Tuesdays at the Pond

Tapping Into Talent

By working together with other organizations, the County’s ED division continued to coordinate with other events already occurring throughout the year to bring residents and tourists downtown. Series such as “On Tap” with timely topics featured at local businesses, Tuesday night “Music in the Park” promotions, the Summer Concert Series and ScienceFest brought thousands to Ashley Pond Park and the creative district in 2018. The Creative District Advisory Committee – part of the LACDC – joined forces with the County Community Services Department (CSD), MainStreet, and both Visitor Centers to support these marketing efforts for Los Alamos and White Rock.

Lights, Camera, Action!

In the last year, the County’s Film Liaison worked to facilitate logistics and community notifications for several film companies – as well as participating in other statewide filming conferences or activities to represent the County’s potential for filming productions. The Film Liaison provides film and television production support, including location scouting, resource referrals, communication between local public safety officials, traffic control and production crews to facilitate the cost-effective and efficient operations required by this industry. The Film Liaison also works closely with the State Film Office and the regional consortium, Shoot Santa Fe, to promote filming in Northern New Mexico locations. Depending on the length of the stay, film productions bring in significant Lodgers’ Tax and gross receipts tax on expenses, such as hotel rooms, fuel, meals and supplies.

Filming of "Only the Brave"

Collaborate with Los Alamos National Laboratory as the area’s #1 employer

County officials meet frequently with counterparts at Los Alamos National Laboratory to keep the lines of communication open regarding Lab plans for hiring, their needs for workforce development, and discussions on challenges and opportunities where the County could assist. In the last year, the focus on collaboration has been on the change in the Management and Operations contract for LANL, which was awarded to Triad, LLC and effective November 1. With the changes in the M&O contract, the County has been concerned about the potential for change to the previous contractor’s taxable status. LANL operations significantly impact the County’s infrastructure, and the needs have been increasing since 2017, as the Lab sought to hire nearly 2,000 additional positions. This has put a stress on an already-high demand for housing, especially in the area of “starter homes” or rental housing for younger professionals just moving to Los Alamos County to begin their careers. Through a series of monthly meetings in the last year, the County Manager and the Economic Vitality Administrator have been considering options to provide more housing choices in Los Alamos and White Rock. The County will continue to support LANL in their recruiting efforts by bringing these kinds of options forward in 2019 and keeping them updated on progress. Land Transfer parcels are an important element of this process to locate new places for housing, and progress was made to transfer some of the DOE parcels last year to the County.

Likewise, making Los Alamos a more attractive community through a variety of retail and entertainment options is an important tool for LANL to use in recruiting. LANL typically hires several hundred students each summer from across the nation and internationally, and the County has supported outreach efforts to engage the students and create a positive experience that will keep them returning to Los Alamos and possibly making it their home as a career choice. In 2018, the Discoveries Action Team (DAT) members worked on the issue of “how can students feel more engaged and active in our community when visiting for the summer” and an informational brochure is in the works as a collaborative effort with LANL Community/Student Relations, the DAT, and the LACDC. The goal is to distribute the brochure in student new hire packets in Spring 2019. The County – through its DAT and consultant – have also opened up meetings and focus groups with students working at LANL in order to find ways to better collaborate and engage the students.

In addition, the Fire Department contract for services was renegotiated this year. Providing these services to protect and serve the Lab is an on-going area of collaboration with LANL and the DOE. Through LAFD, the contract allows for the protection of LANL infrastructure while supplementing the needs of residents. Citizen surveys give very high marks to public safety, and providing a safe community is an important element of recruitment as LANL continues to attract the best and brightest to Los Alamos.

Throughout all of these efforts, the County continues to offer opportunities for LANL employees to provide insights and input into planning efforts, such as involvement in the Economic Vitality Action Team and in the work of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

2018 Healthiest Community in the United States: #4 Los Alamos US News and World Report

Quality of Life

Priority Area: Support development of affordable workforce housing

New Housing Steams Ahead

Several key projects happened in 2018, working with developers in collaboration between the CDD, ED division and staff in the County Manager’s office. Highlights included:

Parcel A-19

A-19 Infrastructure Begins

Blasting for infrastructure build out on this land parcel (approximately 60 acres north of State Road 4 in White Rock) got underway in April. The developer is the A-19-A-1 Acquisition Group and the subdivision is named Mirador. The Acquisition Group plans to construct 161 units plus 61 apartments. This is the first significant housing project for the County in many years, and helps fill demand for more housing – urgently needed with an up-tick in LANL hiring. Housing construction will begin in Spring 2019.

Canyon Walk Apartments Approved for Parcel A-9

A new affordable housing development will be coming to Parcel A-9 on DP Road, just east of the Knights of Columbus Hall. Bethel Development has purchased the property and will build 70 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Homeowners will be low-income qualified. The project will use tax-credit incentives supplied through the State of New Mexico.

Oppenheimer/Trinity Office Building Renovation

A local developer is working to convert this space into a mixed-use development, including apartments, by adding an additional floor to an existing office building, which will add more rental units.

Beyond Land Development: Assisting the Community with Housing Options

Providing homes to those on a low-income isn’t limited to land sales and construction of new units. Two County programs offer options specifically for low-income qualified homeowners or those seeking to buy a home – and they also support goals for affordable housing:

Home Renewal Program Helps Out - CDD staff continued providing services under contract with the Los Alamos Housing Partnership (LAHP), Inc for the Home Renewal Program (HRP), which entered its third year. Low-income homeowners in Los Alamos County are eligible to apply for both financial assistance and a technical assistance program. 13 projects were funded against a budget of $200,000. Five projects have been completed and included work to promote energy efficiency, accessibility and general home repairs that were needed. Qualified contractors are hired to make the improvements after submitting bids on projects within their field of expertise. The 2019 cycle is expected to open in April.

New Program helps Homebuyers -The Homebuyer Assistance Program (HAP) has been very successful in its first full year. Prospective homebuyers who are low-income qualified can apply for a low-interest loan for a down payment, without adding to monthly mortgage costs. LAHP is under contract to oversee the program. Loans range from $8,000 to $25,000 and the program has a budget of $150,000. Eleven homes were funded, with two more applications being considered for approval.

Promote the creation of a variety of housing options for all segments of the Los Alamos Community, including infill opportunities as appropriate

A-13 parcel

A new affordable housing development will be coming to Parcel A-9 on DP Road, just east of the Knights of Columbus Hall. Bethel Development has purchased the property and will 70 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Homeowners will be low-income qualified. The project will use tax-credit incentives supplied through the State of New Mexico.

Parcel A-13

Quemazon In-Fill project

This project in the Quemazon subdivision added ten units at the base of the community.

New Housing in Quemazon

BeeHive Homes Opens in White Rock

In March, a much-needed facility for assisted living for the elderly was opened in White Rock. BeeHive Homes constructed a new, spacious facility that offers 15 rooms in a home-style living atmosphere. Based out of Albuquerque, BeeHive Homes gives residents new options for personal care. The new facility fills a gap in senior services to offer affordable long-term care.

More Affordable Housing Options Considered

Bethel Development approached the County in November to ask about a second low-income qualified tax incentive project, for the A-8 parcel located across the street from A-9 on DP Road. The new project would be especially for seniors and be called “The Bluffs.” The Council approved the necessary ordinances in December to allow the project to be submitted to the State under tight deadlines. It could be processed as soon as early 2019 and if funded would bring another 70-90 units to DR Road.

Parcel A-8

Priority Area: Maintain and Improve existing outdoor recreation and open space amenities.

This was a new goal and priority added by Council in 2018.

Ready to proceed with four quality of life projects

On December 5, 2017, the Council voted to proceed with design and construction of four capital projects: Golf Course Improvements, Ice Rink Improvements, a new Splash Pad for White Rock’s Piñon Park, and a new Kiddie Pool (adjacent to the Aquatic Center) as “quality of life” recreation improvements that the community can enjoy. All four projects were designed in 2018, but are “on hold” pending the uncertain tax status of the new Triad contractor for LANL operations and management. A description of each project is below.

Golf Course Improvements

Public Works staff worked with the Parks and Recreation Board to develop a plan for improvements at the local course at a cost not to exceed $4.524 million. Improvements would be implemented over three years to keep a portion of the course open for play. The top priority is to replace the aging and inefficient irrigation system and could also include safety netting and cart paths. Request for Proposal (RFP) for design services was advertised, a selection was made, and contract award is pending County Manager approval.

Ice Rink Improvements

Public Works staff worked with the Parks and Recreation Board on a plan to improve locker rooms, restrooms and the warming hut at the existing outdoor ice skating rink in Los Alamos Canyon. The project was assigned a budget of $1.2 million, which included funding for a shade study to address melting concerns for the ice and extend the season. The shade study was completed earlier in 2018. Items to be implemented from that study would be an additional project cost that has not been funded. The draft RFP for design services is ready, and is pending advertisement.

Splash Pad at Piñon Park in White Rock

Public Works staff, working with the Parks and Recreation Board, developed a design for a Splash Pad in White Rock. The project has a budget of $720,000; however, the Council requested that staff decrease the amount to be spent on the project if at all possible. RFP for design services was advertised, a selection was made, and contract award is pending County Manager approval.

Kiddie Pool (adjacent to the Aquatic Center)

Public Works staff hired a consultant to complete the design of a new $6.5 million Kiddie Pool with easy entry zone, splash features, lazy river and slide. RFP for design services was advertised, and a selection was made, but contract award was postponed by the County Council on June 12, 2018, until a determination about the tax status of Triad is better known. If it were to proceed to construction, the Kiddie Pool would be built using County land on the eastern grassy slope of the existing Aquatic Center with access provided from the main pool.

Implement a comprehensive range of recreational and cultural amenities that enhance the Los Alamos community

Exploring the Addition of a New Bike Flow Trail

As previously mentioned on page 6, this was a major project for the Parks and Recreation division this year. A consultant was hired to explore options ranging from establishing a family friendly bike trail in various canyons around Los Alamos. The consultant and Staff worked with the various stakeholders interested in the path of the trail and pedestrian/equestrian/ biking/hiking interactions. Results were presented to the Council in September. All options had limitations due to terrain, coinciding with equestrian traffic, accessibility or difficulty levels. Council directed further exploration of some of the options for the trail, and that work is in progress.

Expanding the Canyon Rim Trail

Two exciting developments occurred this year with this popular paved trail. First, the County received funding from the State to construct an underpass. It will connect the LA Mesa Trail on the north side of NM502 with the southerly trailhead start of the Canyon Rim Trail, near Entrada Business Park. Design is underway. Second, the Public Works department has obtained many of the easements for Phase 3 of the project. Those required on DOE property have been acquired and work continues to obtain others on private property. The easements are needed in order to extend the trail from Smith’s Marketplace into the downtown area.

Open Space for Everyone

One of the actions to help meet this goal was a more concentrated effort within the Open Space Division to make trails more accessible and easy to navigate for all levels of users. The Open Space Specialist held several work parties and volunteers joined in to clean up several trails, including tire removal in White Rock Canyon. New trailhead signs and kiosks, as well as trail markers, were installed on several popular trails in Los Alamos this year to provide better navigation for those who may be unfamiliar with the trail system and its interconnectivity. Trail network guide maps were also updated.

Graduation Canyon Project

A popular area for hiking will receive some much-needed attention over the next few months. A contract to be awarded in early 2019 will provide erosion control and repair damage to the canyon bottom. Part of the contract funding is for an educational panel to be featured at one major portion of the trail where visitors can see the type of work performed and can view before/after photos to see how it helped restore the trail.

2018 LAPS #1 School District in New Mexico backgroundchecks.com

Support Los Alamos Public Schools’ goal of ranking among the top public schools in the nation

Renovation of Duane Smith Auditorium

The Council joined Los Alamos Public School (LAPS) officials to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the auditorium this year. The County contributed $1.2 million toward the project, which included renovations for a larger lobby, improved and expanded restrooms, and a renovated entrance into the main space. The auditorium is a community asset. It serves as the community’s performing arts center for a wide variety of programming.

Duane Smith Auditorium

Housing project for land at the Middle School

In November, the School Board endorsed a request to join the County in seeking State capital project funding during the next legislative session that could fund infrastructure for this School-owned land. Approximately 29 acres could be used for low-income housing, which would address an urgent need for housing for school teachers or others employed by the School District. The project is in the early conceptual stage.

Land East of Los Alamos Middle School

Support for Public Health

Staff in the Social Services Division continues to pursue reinstatement of the local Public Health Office after the State drastically reduced operating hours last year. The County pays for leased space for the Public Health office as required by State statute. The reduced hours now require citizens to travel to Española for most services. An RFP for office space for the Public Health Office will be released by the end of this year and should be awarded Spring 2019.

School Prevention Specialist

Recognizing the need for this important, interactive position, the County continues to fund a School Prevention Specialist and other outreach, studies and training opportunities. Staff worked with the Community Health Council and LAPS in 2018 to implement actions outlined in a Strategic Prevention Plan. The Plan addresses key areas of need, such as reducing teen substance abuse, addressing high-risk student populations and increasing student resiliency.

Public Safety Partners

Like the School Prevention Specialist position, School Resource Officers (SROs) are an important partnership between the Los Alamos Police Department (LAPD) and LAPS. SROs are assigned to the elementary schools, middle school and high school, as well as a Juvenile Officer. The SROs work closely with LAPS to provide guidance, training, and security to enhance the school’s safe environment. The SROs are responsible for the Explorer program, which brings together students ages 14 years and up to learn about law enforcement. Explorers participate in crime prevention and community events such as the Ident-A-Kid program and security assessments for home and business.

Practicing Safety Everywhere

Other community outreach programs offered throughout the year by LAPD and Los Alamos Fire Department (LAFD) staff focus on young children in the elementary schools and stress similar safety themes for the home or environment, such as fire prevention or “stranger danger,” offered at age-appropriate levels. LAFD continues to stress such messages as “don’t text and drive, stay alive” through public safety announcements that are meaningful to youth and adults. Public service announcements air prior to movies at the Reel Deal Theater.

Thinking Outside the Box

The County supports LAPS with a variety of programming as part of its contract with staff at the PEEC and through the County-owned Nature Center. For example, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) contracted with PEEC to host a Water Festival for all LAPS fourth-grade classes in April. The Festival covered a variety of water conservation and water-use themes designed especially for elementary-school aged children, provided in a fun, interactive setting. In addition, PEEC staff work with the County’s Environmental Services division and DPU’s Energy Conservation staff on joint public outreach and education programs, such as the Earth Day Festival and Bear Festival. Other programs were facilitated at the Nature Center under the direction of CSD staff, including Recreation, Parks, and the Library, who hosted fun Family Nights featuring campfire stories, roasting marshmallows and other interactive games or crafts for children. It was part of the “100 days of Summer” theme of “Go play, LA” being sponsored by CSD.

Partner with Los Alamos Public Schools and the University of New Mexico - Los Alamos, and support, as appropriate, the delivery of their educational services to community standards

Los Alamos Internships

Public Works employed a summer intern, Ben Narushof, a junior civil engineering student at the University of New Mexico pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in transportation. In summer of 2018 Ben worked on a bike trail connection project. This was Ben’s second summer working with the County.

Public Works Intern Ben Narushof, and DPU Interns Tyler Mobraten, Lucas Montoya and Preston Torres

Since 2012 the DPU has sponsored an engineer internship program that has proven to be a win-win for both the students and the County. Three college engineering interns were employed this past summer through the DPU’s engineering intern program. Beginning in June and continuing through August, the program is designed to provide hands on engineering experience and encourage students to pursue careers in the utilities field. Tyler Mobraten came to DPU from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He was assigned a special project in the Power Production division to research how the DPU should deploy electric vehicle charging stations throughout the community. Mobraten presented his findings on recommended models, pricing, and locations to the Board of Public Utilities. Lucas Montoya with New Mexico State University was tasked to assist Deputy Utilities Manager James Alarid in the field on various water, and natural gas capital projects. Montoya completed a thorough field inspection and records search for 26 existing wastewater lift stations. The final product was a new electronic record file and condition assessment for each lift station. Preston Torres with the University of New Mexico worked closely with DPU’s electrical engineer Stephen Marez to design electric distribution grid improvements. Preston reviewed engineering plans, prepared engineering drawings, performed meter evaluations, inspected construction and coordinated work with line crews.

Library Support

The County’s Libraries support learning and education initiatives independently from LAPS with a variety of programs. Highlights below showcase the Library’s support for education and literacy, especially in young readers:

New Programming - In partnership with LAPS, the Library launched Cover to Cover, a book club for 3rd-6th graders, as well as Project Lit, a community wide book club focusing on new young adult literature. Both programs encourage reading for fun and educational purposes.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten - This Library program encourages families and caregivers to read at least 1000 books with their children before the children start kindergarten. Children and parents are provided with logs and they keep track of the number of books that are read. As milestones are reached, children go to the Library to receive incentives along the way. A wonderful feature of this program is that books that are re-read are counted in the log. Thus, each reading of a favorite book will be counted in the tally. 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a great way to start building a lifelong love of books and reading and helping children and caregivers grow closer through sharing books.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library - This initiative to place books with pre-K children was a collaboration with JJAB to promote early literacy. Children receive one free book a month until they are five years old, simply by registering at the Library.

Book Buddies - This popular program pairs a new reader with a more experienced one in an effort to improve literacy skills for the beginning reader.

Just for Teens - The Library has expanded its focus on teen literacy through a series of school tours, outreach, collection development and programs that foster teen’s recreational reading habits.

Library Tours - The Staff hosted tours and provided class visits for local elementary schools, and began a program this year to develop monthly outreach to daycare centers.

Enhance environmental quality and sustainability, balancing costs and benefits, including County services and utilities

Environmental Services Stats: Yard Trimming Roll Cart Program

When comparing tonnage from 2017 bulk/brush collection to current program:

* 2017 total was 223.75 tons quarterly collection.

* Jan-June 2018 was 135.67 tons quarterly collection

* July 1 – Nov. 14, 2018 was 388.59 tons bi-weekly curbside collection with new Yard Trimming Roll Cart Program in place.

Tracking usage

Staff continues assessing annual usage data and reviewing with department in all areas, including sustainable energy, water usage, recycling, fuel usage and other project internally. Updates are reported annually and provided to Council and public in monthly County Manager reports.

New Yard Trimmings Roll Cart Program Launches

Environmental Services distributed brown roll carts in the Spring, and collection began July 1. Participation in the program is optional at no extra fee, however, public outreach efforts were highly successful and 3,909 roll carts have been placed at residential homes. Diverting yard waste from the landfill has significant impacts on the amount of material that must be hauled to the landfill, which has cost impacts. It is also an eco-friendly solution because the yard waste can be made into mulch for landscaping materials. When comparing tonnage for calendar year 2017 from the quarterly brush collection program to the current program, Environmental Services reported that they have collected twice as much material than from the previous program in the first half of the year alone.

Green Operations

The County employee “Green Team” drafted a policy for environmentally preferred purchases this summer. The Green Team promoted responsible purchasing practices and other eco-friendly initiatives at the Customer Service Week Event in October.

Education & Outreach

Environmental Services staff continued to host and attend various community events. This year, staff teamed up with Environmental Sustainability Board members and other community members to form the “Zero Waste” team. Team members engaged members of the public at events such as Earth Day, the Bear Festival, and ScienceFest with fun, interactive and educational games. The team has developed informational news articles that are seasonal and personal in nature, written by community members who want to support the Zero Waste initiative. This outreach, along with brochures, public service announcements and other educational materials about the benefits of recycling and composting, have all been well-received by the public.

Being Bear Aware

New roll carts that are more bear resistant were distributed this year at a minimal purchase fee for those areas with persistent bear issues. The reduced cost for the bear roll carts was off-set by a grant. To date, 111 Bear Tough roll carts have been distributed.

Increasing Cardboard Capacity

Recycling cardboard is cost-beneficial, so making it easier for residents to recycle – especially when lots of boxes arrive for the holidays from on-line merchants – was a key consideration this winter in placing additional roll offs in various locations around town. Public outreach about cardboard recycling helped promote the urgent need to recycle the products rather than add boxes into the main waste stream.

Maintain and improve transportation and mobility

New Underpass to Connect Canyon Rim Trail

Public Works received a 2017 New Mexico Department of Transportation grant for $2 million for engineering design and construction of a trail underpass at NM502 near the Entrada Business Park. Design work is wrapping up this year. The underpass will connect the businesses at Entrada and those using the La Mesa Trail on the north side of NM502 to the Canyon Rim Trail on the south side.

Urban Trail Corridor Ahead

As mentioned above, the County is working on obtaining easements to extend the Canyon Rim Trail west of Smith’s Marketplace to 20th Street, which will be the next set of trail improvements. This next phase will take trail users across Trinity Drive to downtown businesses on Central Avenue and beyond to the Nature Center, which would then connect several major trails that extend off Acid Canyon and further north. Public Works has applied for two grants for this high-priority Urban Trail Corridor which will provide residents and visitors a pleasant, safe pathway to enter the downtown area.

Bike Flow Trail

The trail, previously mentioned, supports goals for multi-modal transportation enhancements. Public Works is researching grants to support building this trail.

Airport Improvements

Additional metal hangars were constructed this summer on the eastern edge of airport property. The FAA funded the airport fence replacement project along NM502 and it was completed in December. The new, black chain link fence enhances the view of the airport from NM502 at the entrance to Los Alamos, and provides important security upgrades required by the FAA to control access to the runway.

Transportation & Parking: Part of Wayfinding

As outlined previously, the new Wayfinding Plan will benefit transportation and mobility goals. It will assist in managing the growth of tourism, specifically in directing visitors to parking, places of interest, and to local businesses.

Pedestrian Enhancements

New automated audio and voice systems were added at the bus stops for Atomic City Transit buses to assist sight or hearing impaired riders.

Teaming Up to Prevent Drinking and Driving

Atomic City Transit teamed up with the DWI Planning Council for a second year of promoting “Don’t drink and drive.” Grant funds paid for “buzz bus” services, offering free Dial-A-Rides so those drinking at concerts or attending holiday parties. The service has been very well received and highly used.

Regional Transit

The County continues to fund a significant portion of the operating expenses for the North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD), which serves Northern New Mexico communities with bus routes to/from Los Alamos.

Bandelier Shuttle Service Enhancements

The County continues to support Bandelier National Monument visitors by supplying Atomic City Transit shuttle service from the White Rock Visitor Center, as part of a five-year service agreement. Service runs from May to November. A new annunciator system installed on the shuttles this summer enhanced the visitor/rider experience with updates about stops and amenities, which was popular with tourists. The voice annunciator system encourages visitors leaving Bandelier to take time to make a side trip to Los Alamos and gives options for bus connections.

Better Bus and Route Improvements

The Public Works Department is in the process of purchasing two electric buses under a Federal transit grant program called Low or No Emission Vehicle Program. In addition, Transit Staff developed a revised Bandelier schedule that shows bus transfer times to Route 2 that would allow transfers to Los Alamos from the Bandelier Route.

A bus stop was added to improve inbound and outbound service for Elk Ridge. Previously anyone serviced at this stop would be picked up and go to White Rock to return to the Transit Center to transfer. With the new design a bus can enter in the inbound service to the Transit center, saving the customer 20 to 30 minutes per ride.

The Transportation Board approved a Bus Stop Improvement Plan and Phase 1 began with $20,000 in ADA improvements to Route 6 and Route 2T to include such items as passenger loading concrete pads, relocation of stops for better access, and curb cuts and redesigns of stops for ADA access. Continuation of improvements are scheduled with additional budget identified to occur through fiscal year 2020.

Transit staff is working on redesign of the Transit Ride Guide and bus schedules for easier comprehension for first time transit users and visitors to Los Alamos and White Rock. Additional bus schedule connections with Park and Ride and NCRTD’s “Blue Bus” is being developed to assist commuters with connectivity.

2018 Safest City In New Mexico: #1 Los Alamos National Council for Home Safety & Security

Quality Governance

Priority Area: Simplify permit requirements and improve the overall development and building code processes to become easier to work with for all participants

CDD Achieves Accreditation

The International Accreditation Service (IAS) provides objective evidence that an organization operates at the highest level of ethical legal and technical standards. Their program is based on recognized national and international standards. Organizations such as those in CDD responsible for public safety and welfare seek accreditation to demonstrate competence and reliability. During 2018, CDD was able to achieve accreditation through IAS. CDD’s Building Division is the only city or county in the State of New Mexico to have this prestigious designation. The process involves an application and then an on site visit by an auditing team from IAS to review procedures against processes in actual use in the department. The process took approximately 12 months and 1700 hours of staff time.

Improved Processes

After thoroughly reviewing processes and procedures in 2017, CDD updated forms and improved internal work processing flows to significantly reduce turnaround times for permit issuance, dropping the amount of time for turnaround from three days to two days. The total number of commercial permits issued in 2018 was slightly higher than 2017. 75 permits were issued at a total valuation of $3,995,991 in contrast to the total number of permits issued last year at 70 with a total valuation of $3,963,135. However, the number of residential permits increased substantially in 2018, at 679 with a total valuation of $11,311,003 as compared to 2017 with 619 and a total valuation of $13,584,977. The number of permits – especially in the area of residential permitting – is expected to increase in 2019 with new housing development, remodeling and low-interest loan programs that are planned.

Improved Customer Interactions

CDD offers public meetings with building inspectors, planners and code enforcement officers as it works on enhancing face-to-face relationships. Bi-monthly luncheons featuring guest speakers and topics of interest in the building industry are well-attended by contractors. Scheduled “Do It Yourself” Open Houses, in a relaxed, informal atmosphere on Saturday mornings, offer convenient options for residents to stop by and ask questions about remodeling jobs, building plans or questions about County Code.

Continued Improvements for Business, Contractor and Citizen Access to CDD

CDD was able to measure one year of data using its new permitting software (EnerGov), noting that from January through November, 180 building permits or approximately 16% had been submitted electronically online using the Citizen Self Service (CSS) portal. Contractors have noted to CDD staff that they find CSS allows them to more easily submit plans and building permit applications and track them through the process.

Priority Area: Continue implementation of the Comprehensive Plan with an emphasis on neighborhoods

Planning staff are working on several high-priority changes to the Development Code as identified through the Comprehensive Plan update. A sign code update was drafted and should go to Council mid-2019. CDD staff are continuing to work on County development code clean up, such as sections related to Addressing Requirements. Parcel A-16 on DP Road. was transferred to the County in 2018 and it is expected the County will rezone multiple parcels, while performing other infrastructure improvements needed on DP Road. These rezoning changes will help with development of land on DP Road for light industrial and manufacturing uses. Master planning for this area, involving stakeholders and businesses along the main road, will get underway in 2019 to assist in mapping out new development areas and addressing access/parking areas for existing businesses. These efforts should occur alongside the NM502 and Bethel projects. Infrastructure updates include extending utility lines in this area to serve existing and new businesses.

CDD planning staff are also working on a Food Truck policy with members of the Place Marketing Discoveries Action Team, an idea brought forward to CDD in Sept. 2018. The policy would allow parking of food trucks at the RV Park in White Rock, and, could clearly identify areas in White Rock and Los Alamos where such activity is permitted.

Maintain and improve existing quality essential services and supporting infrastructure, including PRISM/MUNIS and permitting

Better Software, Better Processes

The County completed Phase One of a large project to replace its antiquated financial management software – an undertaking that first began two years ago. Known as MUNIS, the upgrade was one of the largest software replacement projects that the County ever pursued. Significant staff time was spent in the first six months of 2018 to test data being brought into MUNIS. Hundreds of employees across a variety of divisions were involved in testing, training and providing feedback to the consultant, with several limited-term employees assisting in the process. MUNIS upgrades financial management processing, streamlines integrated human resources job applications, and improves utilities billing.

User testing and County-wide training took place in May and June and on-line courses continue to be used to train new hires in MUNIS. The next phases of MUNIS will allow citizens more insight into financial reports on-line, upgrade vendor forms and tools to provide a better interface, and establish better purchasing and work order system flow. Phase One has already resulted in enhanced communication among departments, more robust work flows with better tracking tools, and increased efficiencies. Many processes are now electronically moving through MUNIS, resulting in less paperwork, which results in less time spent in the signature/approval process, and delays transporting physical forms between County buildings. Less time is now needed for processing invoices, credit cards, completing time sheets and processing payroll.

MUNIS complements the EnerGov system outlined in the permitting division on page 32. The same manufacturer supports both pieces of software, allowing for the greatest amount of flexibility for data exchange and status tracking. This was an important consideration in supplier selection because of the emphasis on improvements to be made within CDD, and desire to have a cohesive, comprehensive and reliable software system.

Top: LAPD Receives Accreditation; Bottom Left: LAC Academy Graduates Fall 2018

Invest in staff development to create a high performing organization

Leadership Academy

The County offers both a spring and fall leadership/supervisory Academy that, to date, has graduated 114 employees in seven classes. The Academy is in its fourth year of programming and rapidly approaching its goal of bringing all current supervisors or potential new supervisors through the curriculum. County employees participate annually in Leadership Los Alamos (LLA) and also sponsor a Local Government curriculum for one of the LLA sessions.

Online Learning

A benefit of the new MUNIS software that launched in July 2018 is the addition of a new employee training software program called Litmos. Until this year, training had been manually tracked and updated through the Human Resources office. Litmos allows easy access for employees to set up a personal profile. Within the Litmos library, employees can log in and participate in on-line webinars, take e-learning courses at their own pace, review training that needs to be renewed or identify refresher courses, and evaluate other kinds of training being offered.

Achieving Accreditation

As previously stated, CDD received International Accreditation in December 2018. LAPD received Accreditation in February 2018. LAFD is wrapping up work to apply for re-accreditation, an honor held since 2015.

Accreditation allows our departments access to external review of their practices, policies and procedures, a process that promotes adherence to national/international standards in order to improve our service delivery.

Establish and implement a mechanism for effective Utility policy setting and review

Joint Meetings

The DPU Board continued meetings with Council on items of mutual interest. This included discussions about a path forward for the Carbon Free Power Project and the Advanced Metering Implementation project. They also discussed plans and funding mechanisms for replacing the White Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant.

2018 Small Towns with Big Millionaire Populations: #1 Los Alamos - Kiplinger’s

Create a communication process that provides measurable improvement in citizen trust in government

Enhancing the Website

A revised website was launched in March 2017 and the PIO continues to work with the Webmaster and coordinators to update relevant sections. A new Boards and Commissions module was installed Summer 2018, making it easier to apply and track applications online. The MUNIS launch in July 2018 replaced antiquated HR job application online with improved online forms, enabling the ability to save a user profile to apply more easily for jobs, and better displaying employment openings.

Find "Los Alamos County" on Facebook, Instagram, NextDoor and YouTube

Increasing Social Media Connections

The main Facebook page has over 4,500 followers. The County continues outreach on social media, concentrating on use of photos to promote local events and attractions. In addition, NextDoor – social media specifically for neighborhoods – enjoyed a popularity in growth in 2018 with nearly 1400 homes now participating. This is a big increase over 900 homes that used NextDoor in 2017.

Better Software for Boards & Commissions

New software installed this summer by the County Manager’s office brought better visibility to the County website when presenting Boards and Commissions information. Citizens can more easily view openings or peruse upcoming vacancies. Letters of application moved from paper copy to being submitted only online, which is more efficient because a user profile can be saved and submitted for more than one Board or Commission. Internal meetings among Board liaisons helped to create better, more consistent agendas. All Boards and Commissions have moved to a new software module installed last year to make their agendas electronically available online and tied to the video streaming and published minutes after their meeting, which is more efficient and easier for the public to access.

Open Forum

The interactive platform on the County’s webpage allows the public 24/7 access to comment on questions posted by the County. Unlike more traditional email comment options, Open Forum permits users to set up a profile with their information and then post a comment that can be viewed and supported by others with the easy click of a button. Those who register receive email alerts once a new topic is posted on the forum. The Communications and Public Relations Administrator negotiated a competitive new contract after the third-party vendor (Peak Democracy) was sold this summer, allowing the County to keep the popular service and gain access in 2019 to new improvements that will be rolled out by the new company, OpenGov.

Customer Care Center (CCC) Improved Facilities

The team, housed under DPU, continues to be a one-stop shop staffed by friendly representatives ready to answer any question or log any concern or complaint about County government. Plans for renovating the DPU office to house the CCC inside were placed on hold this summer, due to the cost of the remodel.

Improve transparency in policy setting and implementation

Citizen Portal

The next phase of the new MUNIS software system, described earlier, supports government transparency goals. The system will provide customers greater access to County financial information and reports online with fewer delays for data processing. Powered by Socrata, MUNIS will also offer a citizen portal that enables residents the option to create a personal profile that they can customize for routine payments for utilities, the ability to file and view work order status for requested repairs or services, or to be able to review account information online.

Public Engagement

The Council held 35 Council meetings in 2018 – an excellent venue for citizens to give the County feedback about policies, processes and projects; public comment is accepted at the beginning and end of meetings, as well as after business items when the Council is expected to take action. Other options for public engagement include:

Radio Show - A Councilor visits with talk show hosts on KRSN radio the morning after Council meetings in a special “council meeting recap”.

Visits with a Councilor - Councilors are often asked to meet with local Scout troops on citizenship badge requirements. They discuss a current local issue with the kids. Civic organizations are also welcome to be the color guard to present the flags at Council meetings.

Booths - Councilors, the Clerk’s Office, Environmental Services and CSD staff, as well as several of the Boards and Commission members host Farmers Market booths on various Thursday mornings throughout the summer. The booths are an informal way for staff and others to visit with residents about concerns, survey them about changes in policies or processes, or collect feedback about improved or expanded services. The County also hosted a booth at the County Fair in August featuring studies being implemented, such as the Tourism Plan, along with maps and drawings of other Capital Improvement Projects in design, such as Phase 3 of the Canyon Rim Trail and its associated underpass project.

Monthly Reports - The County Manager issues a monthly report to the Council that summarizes accomplishments from every department for the previous month, highlights of upcoming projects, and other kinds of data collected about services. Highlights of these monthly reports are presented to the Council during meetings and are issued to the news media as well.

Presentations and Reports - The Council Chair gives a “State of the County” address each year. The County Manager presents a similar year-end report with a focus on businesses and ED at the first Chamber of Commerce breakfast in January. The Public Information Officer spoke to the Rotary Club about the branding initiative. County staff are often asked to speak to various civic organizations or political groups about timely topics, which provides another venue for the community to provide feedback.

Presentations by Others - When items of community interest arise, the Council may ask those involved to provide a presentation at a Council meeting, so they can better understand any impacts on the community, and facilitate a way for others to learn about happenings within Los Alamos County. For example, new environmental consultant N3B presented plans for waste clean up at a Council meeting this Fall, and Staff from Kroger traveled to Los Alamos to discuss plans for Mari Mac Plaza as well as the Smith’s Marketplace.

Social Media & Webpage Sharing - The County often shares posts from other entities through its News section of the webpage, Friday “County Line” newsletter or by sharing its Facebook posts to other community Facebook pages such as Keep it Local-Los Alamos or Los Alamos Community Info. Councilors with private pages or community Facebook pages also share information such as highlights from the County Manager reports or links to surveys on Open Forum.

Strengthen coordination and cooperation between County government, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and regional and national partners

Building Stronger Economies Together (SET)

The County expanded its work with the SET program, now in its second year of partnering under the Mid-Central Rural Corridor, which includes Los Alamos, Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties. This USDA Rural Development Assistance program provides assistance in community and economic development planning. Working with other SET members, the Economic Development Administrator completed a Comprehensive Plan that was submitted to USDA this summer. The Plan prioritizes projects that could benefit all of the entities involved if it is funded.

Regional Development Corporation (RDC)

Los Alamos County is the primary funding source for REDI, a collaborative effort among Northern New Mexico neighbors to work on areas of interest that can have positive economic impacts with new business development, the creation of new jobs, or job retention. The annual REDI conference was held on December 4, with special guest speaker Thomas Mason of Triad, LLC. REDI partners include the City of Española, City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, Town of Taos, Taos County and Rio Arriba County.

Viome Wins Job-Creation Award - At the REDI Conference, the RDC recognized four high-growth job creators in Northern New Mexico, under funding provided in its 20/20 Campaign. The award aims to recognize at least 20 high-growth companies in the region before the year 2020. To date, 42 companies have been honored. To qualify, companies must have a proven and developed product or service, two or more customers with 50% or more of their revenues coming from outside New Mexico, financial profitability and a solid plan for growth. Each candidate goes through a competitive screening process.

Viome received the Job Creation Award this year. Founded in 2016, Viome is a health insight and artificial intelligence company that analyzes microbiome and metabolism to generate personalized dietary and nutritional recommendations. The company utilizes metatranscriptomic sequencing technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory coupled with a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence engine. Employing 40 people in Los Alamos and 135 people worldwide, in 2018 the company was listed on CNBC’s annual list of 100 promising start-ups to watch and was a finalist in the prestigious R&D 100 Awards.

Energies Communities Alliance

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Project Manager traveled to a peer-to-peer exchange to discuss marketing, outreach and branding for the Park this summer. Monthly conference calls between the Project Manager, Councilors, local businesses and citizens, LACDC and representatives from LANL facilitate discussions and promote working together on common issues of interest with counterparts located in Hanford, WA and Oak Ridge, TN.

Regional Coalition of LANL Communities

Despite unified efforts by Regional Coalition members and passage of State legislation by both House and Senate requiring gross receipts tax revenues to remain in place regardless of the taxable status of the firm winning the LANL operations and maintenance contract, the Governor vetoed the bill last session. The Coalition continues to have a strong presence in Northern New Mexico. More formal processes and procedures which are being implemented, along with a new Executive Director hired under contract this summer, should ensure that the organization continues to support regional initiatives. The Coalition is comprised of nine cities, counties, and pueblos surrounding LANL: Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe, Town of Taos, Taos County, Rio Arriba County, the City of Española, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, and Jemez Pueblo.

DP Road

Actively pursue land transfer opportunities

Since 1997, the County has received several DOE land transfer parcels to support ED and housing initiatives. The land parcels replaced an annual payment program from the DOE to the County in recognition of the services that the County provides for LANL, the largest employer in Northern New Mexico. The parcels are important to fulfill ED and housing initiatives. This summer, the County received the deed from the DOE to parcel A-16-a, which is land located on DP Road, across from the commercial development area. The land is being considered for commercial projects in the future, as DP Road becomes more developed with in-fill housing projects. Infrastructure improvements for DP Road are needed in order to attract new commerce to the area. Public Works staff submitted a BUILD grant this Fall to help fund the cost of the utilities, but their application was not successful. The County will continue to pursue funding options for the infrastructure that is needed, especially now that clean-up is underway at the former TA-21 site at the eastern edge of DP Road. The project got underway this winter and is expected to wrap up within three years, adding more possibilities for land to be turned over to the County for future industrial projects.

2018 Best Places to Retire in New Mexico: #6 Los Alamos - SmartAsset

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