State to take over City of Santa Fe’s finances

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SANTA FE, N.M. – The state is stepping in to take over the City of Santa Fe’s finances because of a $4 to $5 million unanswered question.

New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón calls this a broken financial situation.

"We are so deeply concerned that the City of Santa Fe financial house is in disarray that we are coming in to provide a backstop, and brought oversight and to try and get them from where they are, to where they need to be, which is being in a position to be able to present for an audit," said Brian Colón New Mexico auditor.

Colón says a national auditing firm essentially quit doing business with Santa Fe – withdrawing from an annual audit of the city’s finances – because the city failed to reconcile between $4 to $5 million in cash.

"Basically what it means is you’re ready to put your checkbook on the table and say ‘look check my work’ and in this situation, the City of Santa Fe can’t find their checkbook register essentially. I mean, they are in a position that I have not found in any agency to be in, in the last 3 1/2 years as your state auditor," said Colón.

Colón says the state will now come up with a plan to fix the city’s financial situation – and complete the audit. He says taxpayer money needs to be accounted for to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

"People are asking the questions, ‘well has there been money stolen, is it missing?’ Look, we can’t even answer these questions because they can’t give us the data,” Colón said.

A spokesperson for the City of Santa Fe sent KOB 4 a statement in response, saying:

"We anticipate official direction from the state auditor regarding any and all required or recommended steps to correct any errors or processes. His guidance and any assistance he can bring to the table to help the city is welcome. We recognize the gravity of the situation and take the implications of this development very seriously."