City-State Agreement to Help Draw Down Withheld Appropriations

DFA will release more than $3.1 million in funding for city parks, pedestrian and other projects if city uses selected fiscal agent

At least another $3.1 million the state appropriated to Santa Fe but withheld over late audits will finally trickle down through a fiscal agent for certain projects following a new city-state agreement.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mayor Alan Webber and local Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth identified a number of projects that can move forward at a meeting Jan. 22, according to a news release issued late Jan. 23. But since the city still hasn’t caught up with its overdue financial audits, it must use a fiscal agent to oversee the cash.

The state Department of Finance and Administration tells SFR the projects are:

  • $2.78 million in community-selected improvements to SWAN Park, including hiker/biker trailheads, water play element, dog park, and multi-sport recreation fields appropriated in the 2022 and 2023 sessions;
  • $300,000 for extending the Tierra Contenta Trail from Buffalo Grass to South Meadows to provide safe routes to Sweeney Elementary School and the Ortiz Middle School appropriated in the 2022 session;
  • $100,000 for sidewalk and lighting improvements along Harrison Road to improve quality of life and safety for residents appropriated in the 2022 session;

The city also says it will receive money for “median beautification to provide sustainable and beautiful designs on gateway medians,” though neither DFA nor the city provided a dollar figure. Mayor Alan Webber described the collaboration as “a milestone for Santa Fe. By working together, we can leverage resources more efficiently and address urgent priorities that will enhance the lives of our residents and help make our wonderful city the destination it is known to be.”

Lujan Grisham said in the statement that by expediting the release of state funds, leaders were “signaling our commitment to making Santa Fe the clean, vibrant and accessible city our residents expect and deserve.”

The governor agreed to the plan on the condition that the city use a fiscal agent, however, Lujan Grisham’s Communications Director Maddy Hayden tells SFR in an email.

The city and the state have previously sparred over appropriations—DFA briefly redirected $1 million in capital outlay funds designated for City of Santa Fe parks last fall, but ultimately walked that decision back.

In December, the City Council and Webber approved an agreement for fiscal agent services with the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District to help draw down more than $4 million in Fiscal Year 2021 dollars dedicated to several city projects—a plan DFA suggested in an August letter addressed to the mayor. Under the terms of the agreement, the fiscal agent keeps 3% of the cash.

Meanwhile, finance officials completed the FY21 audit in 2023, and the city wrapped its FY22 audit just last week. Finance Director Emily Oster has said the city is still on track to submit the remaining FY23 audit by its May 15 goal.

Funding for the second phase of the new airport terminal will also be expedited, the city news release said.

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