BY RICHARD SKOLNIK
Public debate around the golf course, bike lanes, and conference center/hotel underscores the need for Los Alamos County to change the way it makes decisions about state-funded investments.
The county should aim for its investments to be feasible, sustainable, cost effective and equitable.
- First, the investment must be able to be made as planned.
- Second, the county should base its investments on a comparison of the costs and benefits or profitability of alternative investment proposals.
- Third, the county must consider the environmental costs and benefits of proposed investments.
- Finally, the county must assess the fairness of proposed investments by considering who will benefit from them, versus who will pay for them. This should include an analysis of any public subsidy offered per user, for example, and how this subsidy compares to subsidies per user for other services/amenities.
The above information is essential for the county to propose investments with public funds.
Without the above information, there is Nope basis for county decision on state-funded projects. Moreover, without the above, the public does not have the information it needs to comment in detail on any investment proposal.
In the six years I have lived in Los Alamos County, I have been consistently disappointed by the lack of proper analysis behind many of the county’s proposed investments. Whether the lack of necessary analysis stems from lobbying by special interest groups, county staff working unchecked, or a lack of understanding by the county council of basic principles for sound decision-making has not of importance. In all cases, investments financed by public funds must be justified by the analyzes described above. These analyzes must then be openly shared with county residents. before investment decisions are made. Otherwise, how can we judge whether our tax money is being used in a feasible, sustainable, profitable and equitable way?