The submission of the city of Santa Fe’s 2020 fiscal year audit will again be delayed, according to a memo sent Monday to the State Auditor’s Office.
According to the memo, the city will need until at least Aug. 31 — eight months after the audit originally was to be filed.
The city in February received an extension to Wednesday after missing the Dec. 15 deadline.
Stephanie Woodruff, chairwoman of the city’s Audit Committee, said much of the delay is caused by a combination of the city’s transition to a new accounting system and staffing issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Alan Webber offered a similar explanation in February, drawing a rebuke from State Auditor Brian Colón.
Woodruff said the new system was improperly installed in 2017 by the previous administration, and the city has been cleaning up resulting issues. She said it is better the city takes its time to ensure future audits are submitted in a more timely manner.
The system also has been blamed for issues involving improper employee deductions, tax documents and other payroll issues.
“The audit was due back in December, and whether you are late one day or six days, it is still the same: There is a delay,” Woodruff said. “It is better to continue to take the time, and — I know the state auditor agrees with this — it’s better to take the time to ensure it is done right and clean up some of these issues that, honestly, go back decades.”
Colón said the city has kept in touch with his office and would rather have a tardier audit with accurate data than one that’s inaccurate. He also said the office is focused on helping the city putting a system in place the ensures timely audits in the future.
“We will continue to work with the city to ensure that fiscal year 2021 is timely,” Colón said. “It is important and it matters, but, at the end of the day, we want it to be correct and an accurate reflection of the city.”
It’s the second straight year the city has been late in submitting its audit.
In 2019, the city was six months late on providing a financial audit report and was late, or failed to respond completely, to specific requests from the state auditor.
Colón previously said untimely audits could affect federal grants and put entities like the Buckman Direct Diversion Board and the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Authority at risk of losing funding.
Woodruff said audits for both entities will be submitted Wednesday, and it was mainly the “federal portion” of the audit affecting the process.
According to the memo, the city expects to finish examining federal grant funds July 16.
In 2017, the city was blasted for financial issues in an audit dubbed the McHard Report, which outlined a lack of internal financial controls. The auditors said this created a field ripe for fraud or mismanagement of funds.
According to the memo, the city has been working with the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen for a revised timeline and will inform Colón if the Aug. 31 deadline cannot be met.
Woodruff, however, said she is confident the city will make the deadline.