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New Mexico State Auditor’s report does not bode well for some small New Mexico towns

Cimarron, Folsom and Springer are still “At Risk,” and Maxwell is now in compliance

staff report

COLFAX — New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller recently released his latest list of “At Risk” state and local governments, and several small towns in northern New Mexico have been flagged. According to the document, these “government agencies are placed on the list if they fail to submit their annual audits or if they receive audit opinions that indicate significant problems with their financial statements.“ The document goes on to say, “if public funds are not audited, the risks of fraud and abuse increase.”

Of the various school districts, municipalities, state agencies, institutions of higher learning, and counties which appear in Keller’s report as “FYI16” at risk entities – a term used to refer to those government bodies who have not submitted audits by the annual deadline of December 1, the municipalities that are part of the World Journal territory who were given this illustrious label include the villages of Cimarron, Maxwell, and Folsom, and the Town of Springer.

The Office of the State Auditor writes their annual report in January of each year, and as entities come into compliance, they are removed from the list. Those wishing to check the status of problem entitles can visit to see updated statuses of these towns, agencies, etc. As of April 4, Maxwell no longer appears on the list.

Being late with an audit holds some hefty ramifications for those municipalities not in compliance. According to Jolene M. Slowen, Chief of the Community Development Bureau, one such price is the inability for those towns who have not submitted their audits to apply for CBDG grants. According to Slowen, “Entities are not eligible for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds if they are not in compliance with the state audit act.”

Just how much can a CDBG grant be? According to Slowen, the New Mexico Administrative Code which governs CDBG in New Mexico says, “applications shall be limited to a maximum of $500,000 for applications without cost estimates; and a maximum of $750,000 for applications accompanied by a certified cost estimate.” This means entities who have not completed audits by the specified December 1 deadline are NOT eligible to apply for CBDG grants that can range anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000 dollars if awarded. While an application for a CBDG grant does not guarantee getting one, agencies who don’t meet their audit deadlines can’t even apply. For entities found to be noncompliant with their audits, the price can be hefty indeed.

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