Santa Fe County commissioners approved a revised joint powers agreement Tuesday that imposes stricter financial controls over the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, a public agency that had largely operated under the radar until it was thrust into the spotlight a year ago amid revelations of unauthorized expenses.
But the vote wasn’t unanimous.
County Commissioner Anna Hansen, who proposed a handful of unsuccessful amendments, abstained, and County Commissioner Ed Moreno, the lone supporter of Hansen’s proposed changes, also didn’t vote.
Hansen wanted to strike a provision in the agreement that gives the coalition authority to advocate for long-term stable funding of Los Alamos National Laboratory missions, among other proposed changes.
“I would like to entertain the idea of deleting ‘advocacy of long-term stable funding of LANL missions’ since LANL’s mission is 70 percent weapons-related,” she said. “It seems to me that that would be possibly a point that we are supporting weapons production.”
But a majority of her colleagues disagreed and voted to approve the revised joint powers agreement, or JPA, as presented.
Santa Fe County Attorney Bruce Frederick, who worked on the revisions, said the changes sought to impose financial controls and define the coalition’s powers. The agreement didn’t specify how much financial support the county would provide.
“These amendments are purely fiscal and a couple of clarifications,” he said. “The JPA as it is, as I read it, is neutral. This board in no way is supporting or saying that it supports weapons or defense or whatever, anything like that.”
Tuesday’s vote marked the first time one of the coalition’s nine members considered the revised agreement, county officials said. The coalition, formed in 2011, describes itself as a conduit for Northern New Mexico communities to have a say in government decision-making concerning regional economic development and nuclear cleanup at the lab.
“This JPA will get this board in compliance and make sure that we have good financial controls,” said County Commissioner Henry Roybal,who represents Santa Fe County on the coalition board and as its former treasurer unknowingly signed off on a number of unauthorized expenditures.
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