News & Announcements
Mayor Webber’s City Hall financial leadership team is meeting with New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon tomorrow, February 25, to address concerns Mr. Colon expressed in a letter sent February 23 about delays in delivering the City’s Fiscal Year 2020 audit.
Mayor Webber: “We share Mr. Colon’s commitment to excellent fiscal management and will do everything we can to respond to his concerns. We are meeting with him and his team tomorrow to talk through the issues he raised. The audit process was delayed in part by the unprecedented and extraordinary uncertainties and exigencies of the COVID pandemic, but we are getting back on track.”
The Finance Department is working with the City’s external auditor to establish a timeline for the completion of the audit by June 30, 2021, and will report that timeline to the Office of the State Auditor in coming days. In coming weeks, work on the FY20 audit will take place at City facilities under COVID-safe protocols. The Finance team meets weekly with the Mayor and City Manager to inform them of progress, and regularly informs the Audit Committee Chair and the Finance Committee members on progress.
In fiscal year 2021, the Finance Department has performed commendably under unprecedented circumstances, most of them the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic destruction. Last July, the department produced three versions of this year’s budget as the City reckoned with the unpredictable negative impact on reduced Gross Receipts Tax and other revenue sources.
The City received $17.5 million from the State in recognition of our outstanding response to the threats posed by the early months of COVID. That was an enormous boost for our community. However, it had the unanticipated impact of imposing additional operational requirements on the City’s Finance Department, which had to process the $17.5 million in CARES Act grant funds within 3.5 months before the deadline of December 31, 2020. This time- and resource-intensive effort had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Santa Feans who received much needed relief money and services.
As if the economic impact and uncertainty caused by the pandemic weren’t challenging enough, Finance Department operations were carried out with unexpectedly reduced resources, including workforce shortages, a 40 percent staffing vacancy rate due to GRT-related budget shortfalls, remote work, and COVID-related absences that stretched for weeks in some cases.
The degree of operational difficulty was further compounded by the implementation of an upgraded financial and human capital system (Tyler Munis Financials). As with any new IT implementation, there have been technical issues, and they have contributed to the late submission of the audit. Those issues have been resolved, and the modernized system will benefit City operations far into the future.
As a result of its sound fiscal management, the Finance Department is now anticipating favorable budget adjustments in the second half of this fiscal year as the State, City, and County emerge and recover from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The department is simultaneously preparing the FY22 budget.