City Manager John Blair today released the following statement:
“I am absolutely committed to transparency in government. It is a core value of mine, and I seek to practice it every day in my role as City Manager. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I understand that I should have shared the Department of Finance Administration (DFA) letter with City Councilors and the public in a timely manner. I apologize for not doing that.
“Finance Director Oster, City Attorney McSherry, and I are continuing to work with our State governmental partners on outstanding questions regarding how the City’s FY21 capital outlay appropriations are being handled. For example, we have been informed by DFA that a FY21 appropriation for $1,000,000 for City parks improvements 'has been granted to the New Mexico General Services Department.' We are working to understand the legal authority for, and the implications of, such an action.
“Over the last year, the City has strengthened our Finance Department with new leadership, successfully upgraded our IT systems with enhanced payroll and finance functionality, and instituted a mandatory month-end close process. These actions have had a meaningful impact on the City’s ability to get our audit work done in a timely manner.
“In the spirit of transparency, Director Oster has provided 36 public briefings and updates on our audit work in just the last nine months. The FY21 audit has been submitted and was given an unmodified opinion (known as a clean audit). Our team is working as hard as possible to complete both the FY22 and FY23 audits as quickly as possible. I am confident that we have put the pieces in place so that future audits will be ontime and clean. But it does take time to get caught up. That is what we have been doing all year.
“All of this is important and meaningful progress, and all of it needs to be shared with the City Council and the public in full transparency.”