The City of Santa Fe now aims to submit its fiscal year 23 audit by May 15, 2024, according to a news release issued after the close of business Monday night.
That timeline for the audit, which is due to the state annually on Dec. 15, marks the latest in a long list of missed deadlines for the city: Its 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 audits were not submitted on time. The FY21 was completed in July, while the FY22 audit is still in progress and estimated for completion on Dec. 4, according to Finance Director Emily Oster.
“Typically, one audit takes eight months to complete. Completing three audits in eleven months is an extraordinary accomplishment and demonstrates the City’s deep commitment to correcting our history of late audits and ensuring the timelines are met moving forward, starting with FY2024,” City Manager John Blair said in a statement.
The announcement from the administration comes after lengthy and repeated conversation at City Council and committee meetings for nearly a year, including weekly updates from Oster. The tardy financial reporting has led the state to withhold capital funds allocated by the Legislature until the city catches up.
District 2 Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, who serves as the Finance Committee chair, tells SFR late Monday that “like everyone,” she’s frustrated, but she has faith in the city team and the progress so far.
“This is a systemic problem spanning at least 20 years. Modernization, changes to the processes and important staffing hires are being made to address the issues,” Romero-Wirth says. “I’m confident in our leadership and the Finance Department employees who are setting a course for timely audits. Problems of this magnitude take time to correct.”
Her fellow District 2 Councilor Michael Garcia tells SFR he’s “not surprised at all by recent developments,” saying he has long suspected the city wouldn’t meet the state deadline for FY23′s audit. He notes two firms on contract to help with audits had already told finance officials the document would be late.
“This is a perfect example of why I have been requesting for the last two governing body meetings for representatives from Carr, Riggs & Ingram and CliftonLarsonAllen to come before the governing body so they can be asked questions in a public format so we can have answers to these questions,” Garcia says. “I think the unfortunate thing is we now have the answers that we could have gotten nearly two weeks ago, and it puts us very much in a reactive mode, and I’m not somebody who wants government to operate in a reactive mode; we should always be proactive in a sense where something that we have full control over, which is the audit.”
The City Council approved a contract Sept. 27 with accounting firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram to compile the city’s ‘23 audit for $269,454.