It’s costing the Village to find out why we have nearly $5 million more than we thought we had. The Village has hired a forensic accounting firm, McHard Accounting Consulting LLC of Albuquerque, to discover how its investment account came to hold around $4.7 million.

“We are working with an accounting firm just to identify the funds, to make sure those funds are not encumbered,” Village Administrator Ron Curry said May 12. “We don’t think there is any money in there that shouldn’t be there, and we don’t anticipate that any of that money is encumbered.

“We think we should know within the next 30 to 90 days after we re-align accounts. We’re moving slowly and conservatively to make sure we can use it.”

Village officials were surprised to learn that sum was sitting in an investment account in Santa Fe after Corrales Comment asked late last year what Village government had in savings. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVIII No. 20 January 11, 2020 “What’s Ahead for 2020?” and Vol.XXXIX No.1 February 22, 2020 “Mystery Continues For Village’s Extra $4.7 million.”)

Earlier this year, Curry told the mayor and council that “What made this jump out to us is that when you look at that amount of money, it is equivalent to our budget for one year. It is a good problem to have, but it definitely requires us doing due diligence. We don’t want to get into a situation where we owe that money if we spend it in the wrong way.”

Later in the same January 14 council meeting, then-Councillor George Wright asked Village Finance Officer Reyna Aragon what she knew about the perplexing sum in the Village’s investment account. She replied: “We do not yet know where it came from. In 2016, we see from Wells Fargo, general cash for $4 million going into an investment account. That’s all we know about is so far.”

Mayor Jo Anne Roake asked her, “Didn’t we also see something in 2014 and 2015 as well?” Aragon replied, “There was a big gap of about $2 million increase in all the money, combined.”

Then-Councillor Jim Fahey then asked, “So the most I ever remembered in that investment account with former Mayor Gasteyer is $1.8 million or something like that.”

Mayor Roake responded: “We aren’t going to spend any of it until we have a better idea, and just not that we have a healthy investment account at this point. I think healthy skepticism is good at this point. It is just very unexpected.”

Fahey directed another question to Aragon. “Is there any way it is bond money?”  She replied: “We don’t know yet. In 2016 there was roughly $772,000 in there until they moved the $4 million in there.”

The January 14 discussion ended with Mayor Roake asking for anyone with answers to speak up. “If somebody talks to somebody and they say, ‘I know what that is,’ please share that with us.”

McHard Accounting describes itself as “a forensic accounting firm. We exclusively practice forensic and investigative accounting, including litigation support and investigation of matters arising out of financial disputes, including criminal or civil litigation employment issues, business or partnership disputes, financial fraud schemes or other disputed accounting matters and management consulting services.”

Its website says it specializes in “reconstructing accounting records.” Its founding partner is Janet M. McHard.

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