The City of Santa Fe submitted its fiscal year 22 audit to the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor late Thursday night, officials say.
“Two down, one to go,” Mayor Alan Webber said in a written statement issued Friday morning. “Finance Director Emily Oster and her team are doing outstanding work. They deserve our appreciation and recognition. It’s hard work with added pressure, and they continue to deliver results.”
The announcement follows lengthy, tense and heated discussions at City Council and committee meetings, including weekly audit updates from Oster. The FY22 audit submission marks the second one of the year for the city, following FY21′s just over five months ago. The city had most recently aimed for a Dec. 4 submission but missed that mark by a few days.
Oster tells SFR the city continues to make progress on getting caught up, adding “accurate and timely financial recording is important.”
“I feel incredibly proud of the work that the team has done—both the finance department employees, our consultants, the auditors themselves, and then we had personnel citywide, honestly up until late last night,” Oster says. “This has been all hands on deck. The city attorney, the manager, the mayor, everyone has been so engaged and committed to getting this audit turned in, so I am just really proud of the way that the city came together to get this audit done, and I’m looking forward to getting FY23 done.”
Though the writing was on the wall, the city recently announced it would definitely miss the state’s Dec. 15 deadline for the FY23 audit, which Oster says will be submitted by May 15, 2024. The City Council approved a contract Sept. 27 with accounting firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram to compile the city’s ‘23 audit for $269,454.
The announcement adds to a string of late audits for the city, which has historically submitted audits late—13 of the last 20 years, to be exact. In more recent years, the city turned in its 2018, 2019 and 2020 behind schedule as well.
As a result of the tardy financial reporting and a 2013 executive order from former Gov. Susana Martinez, the state is withholding capital funds allocated by the Legislature until the city catches up on all of its audits.
City Manager John Blair tells SFR the city is “headed in the right direction” and does not have long left before it catches up.
“Late audits, as we’ve learned, are a longstanding problem for the City of Santa Fe, but I think under this team, and with the great work that Director Oster and her team are doing, we’ve fixed the problem, and it takes a little while to get caught up,” Blair says. “We are on track to be fully compliant by the end of this fiscal year, and that’s important because we want to make sure that our legislators know, other elected officials know and the residents of Santa Fe know that we are going to be aggressively seeking capital appropriations from the Legislature during this session, and that the City of Santa Fe will be ready to draw down those funds in the next fiscal year when they’re available.”