RCLC board members, from left, Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez, Taos City Councilor Darien Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal, Los Alamos County Councilor David Iraelevitz and alternate board member Los Alamos County Councilor Randy Ryti listen Tuesday afternoon to Daniel Trujillo of Kubiak Melton & Associates. Santa Fe City Councilor Peter Ives attended by phone. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Regional Coalition of LANL Communities chair and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal has asked the RCLC’s legal counsel to review the recent six years of Tier IV Agreed-Upon Procedures performed by Kubiak & Melton.
“Now that we do have our audits in place, I’ve asked the legal counsel that we retained to review the audits and give us some legal advice as far as how we should proceed and as far as any reimbursements that were made that were not by our rules,” Roybal said. “I am requesting legal advice on how we should proceed to ask for reimbursements of any funds that we need to recover.”
Roybal first publicly stated in August 2018 following the release of a special audit by former State Auditor Wayne Johnson that any inappropriate reimbursements made with RCLC funds should be refunded to the RCLC by those who received them. That audit included some 18 findings, many of which related to travel and entertainments for alcohol, meals and event tickets.
Earlier in Wednesday’s RCLC meeting in Los Alamos, board member Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez asked executive director Eric Vasquez if there was any indication of when the RCLC might hear back from the Department of Energy regarding the annual grant which has been withheld pending the results of the audit.
“We are currently communicating with both DOE and also our Congressional delegation. I am expecting that we will have that information within the next two months. I do believe that if we do not have it by the end of March or April that this board is going to have to start considering what to do going forth,” Vasquez said.
Daniel Trujillo of Kubiak Melton & Associates was present to discuss the Tier IV Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements from 2013 to 2018 which were submitted to the Office of the State Auditor in August and released Nov. 15.
Trujillo said the OSA is requiring the RCLC to do a full blown financial statement audit for FY19 which he hopes will be ready by the end of January 2020. He presented a findings matrix listing the nature and number of occurrences throughout the six years.
“A Tier IV Agreed-Upon Procedure is not an audit. It’s not up to the level of an audit. An audit would be where we would express an opinion on whether or not the financial statements are free from material misstatements. The State Auditor required us to consider the special audit throughout our six-year engagements,” Trujillo said.
Vasquez told Trujillo the public has been asking if there are any issues in the audits that he found “overly egregious” that he thinks the RCLC needs to continue to look at, or if the board is in a position to move forward. Trujillo said he felt the procedures the board had put into effect were going to safeguard the RCLC from things that were “definitely non-compliant and completely against prior policies and procedures such as buying meals for people who aren’t members and not having property document to support stays in hotels that exceed limits that the State Mileage and Per Diem Act set out there”.
“The other pervasive (issue) was the contracts with the executive directors entities which at the time really had no conciseness on what was allowed to be reimbursed and therefore there were a lot of reimbursements made, sometimes up to 15 percent of the total contract such as meals, things against the policies and procedures of the board at the time,” Trujillo said.
He said that in the new contract with the executive director, there’s no room for reimbursements so that really protects the board against reimbursing things that shouldn’t be reimbursed.
“I think that’s one of the major things you all have addressed rapidly as you should have. I think that now that you have the contractors doing the accounting and the expenditures are coming before the board during every meeting, it’s a little bit of overkill but at the same time double- and triple-checking is kind of important right now. I think you could kind of throttle back a little, especially in things like getting contractors paid on time. I think as long as you continue to do what you’re doing right now, you’re going to be okay,” Trujillo said.
Board secretary and Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz asked Trujillo to go through the major topics on the matrix to make sure all the issues were addressed.
Vasquez noted that the FY19 audit will be submitted later than required but that he is communicating with OSA.
“They are aware of our process. They know that because of the special circumstances that it is taking us a little bit longer,” Vasquez said.
Trujillo said the OSA was put on notice last week that the FY 2019 audit will be late and that “they were happy to be put on notice”.
“I think you guys on the right track with the oversight and that the new policies an procedures are really going to start to protect you all and protect the organization going forward,” he said.