Robert Rodarte, the longtime city purchasing director, is retiring from his Santa Fe job. It's been nine months since he last darkened the door at the city Finance Department, though.
Rodarte was one of the city employees singled out by the McHard report last September. Reviewers blasted Rodarte, who was identified only by his position in fraud risk assessment, for saying purchasing division employees were "untrainable" and for making good on his assessment by not training them for the past decade. Meanwhile, the report said, he traveled the state training other cities' employees in an expert capacity.
The city improperly split contracts to avoid putting them out for bid and created duplicate vendors to do so. Rodarte's division was ripe for fraud, they said, and it was costing the city money. Santa Fe's latest audit, for the year ending June 2017, said $35,000 in undeposited checks were found in the desk of a purchasing officer.
The city suspended Rodarte, with pay, the day the McHard report came out. It's paid him roughly $60,000 since then. Last month, he informed the city that he'd retire early. Using accrued leave starting June 22, he'll retire on Halloween. Rodarte will collect at least $3,600 a month in public retirement.
The decision to split was mutual, according to a settlement agreement provided in response to a public records request by SFR, meaning the city wanted Rodarte gone from his protected position, and Rodarte was willing to leave. The city investigated Rodarte while he was suspended from his job; it would not release the results of that investigation or its focus.
"This was one of the loose ends," Mayor Alan Webber told SFR Monday afternoon. "That position is now open and our new city manager can hire for it."
Asked if early retirement meant there wasn't accountability for the kinds of issues raised by the McHard report and the annual audit, Webber said, "There absolutely was. His choice [to retire early] was an outcome based on a series of conversations. I don't know what he would have chosen if he hadn't been in this situation."
Rodarte will be 60 by the time he retires, with a little less than 22 years of qualifying service time under the state pension plan to which union-covered city positions belong.
Reached by phone Monday evening, Rodarte told SFR, "That's a decision I made. I've been offered some other positions and I think it's time to move on."
Rodarte wouldn't talk about his time on administrative leave, saying, "I don't want to comment on that. I'm happy with my decision and I decided to retire and I've earned it."
Under the terms of the city's agreement with Rodarte, he won't seek another job with Santa Fe. The city agrees to give him a neutral job recommendation, meaning it will only pass along the dates he worked for the city and the positions he held, not the controversy surrounding his departure or his paid suspension.
Rodarte is using 10 days of sick leave, about 14 days of holiday and comp time, and nearly 70 days—that's 14 weeks—of unused vacation time to retire early.