Santa Fe council strives to fix enterprise funds

Nov. 22, 2000
Members of the Santa Fe City Council vowed Wednesday to fix the city's financial problems and return its troubled enterprise funds to fiscal solvency.

By JONATHAN McDONALD

November 10, 2000 (The Santa Fe New Mexican)—Members of the Santa Fe City Council vowed Wednesday to fix the city's financial problems and return its troubled enterprise funds to fiscal solvency.

Mayor Larry Delgado called for a special meeting of the city Finance Committee on Nov. 29 to discuss possible solutions to the city's woes. Delgado suggested the entire City Council attend that meeting.

An enterprise fund is the term used to describe a city department expected to pay for itself.

The city-owned water utility, Sangre de Cristo Water, is the most troubled of the enterprise funds. Plagued this year with problems ranging from failing infrastructure to an inability to send bills to some customers, city officials last week revealed a deficit of at least $3.4 million last fiscal year.

Several other enterprise funds, including the Municipal Recreation Complex, the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Solid Waste Division are projected to collectively lose millions more.

Councilor Matthew Ortiz introduced a resolution that would block any city expenditure of more than $50,000 until the city figures out its finances.

Ortiz last week said he thinks the council needs to reconsider a decision it made last month to spend $339,545 to thin 350 acres of city-owned property in the 18,000-acre Santa Fe Watershed.

The money to pay for the thinning is coming from a gross-receipts tax dedicated to capital improvement projects. The same tax fund will likely be tapped to bail out the water utility.

Councilor Cris Moore, who serves as chairman of the city Public Utilities Committee, said the revelation of severe financial problems at the water utility puts its credibility "at an all-time low."

Moore said that some city departments are "mismanaged" and that City Manager Frank Di Luzio needs to take "strong action."

The councilor said he was particularly unhappy with the management of the Marty Chavez Links de Santa Fe golf course and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Chris Hollis, the city employee charged with overseeing the golf course, told Moore and other councilors last week that the golf course's revenues were far beneath projections in part because he only had one phone line to the clubhouse.

Moore, who audibly laughed at Hollis' statement to the Finance Committee, said Wednesday he "wasn't happy" with Hollis' answers.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau was also criticized by Moore, who said he is receiving complaints from the business community about its management.

Moore, known as a councilor who avoids involvement in City Hall personnel squabbles, said changes should be made at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. "I don't think it's being run well," he said.

Councilor Frank Montano said the public needs to realize the city's fiscal woes are limited to the enterprise funds.

"Our general fund is fine," Montano said, adding that lodgers tax and gross-receipts tax revenues are up for the year.

The mayor charged Di Luzio with coming up with solutions to bail out the enterprise funds, warning the city manager the mayor would not look kindly upon any suggestion that tapped into the general fund.

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