SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s tax time, and many of us have likely already started mulling over our finances. Yet, how do we know where our money is going? That’s where state audits come into play. Every year, each public entity in the state is required to turn one in. When they don’t, the state lets you know via their “At Risk” list.
Every year, the state auditor releases a list of the villages, cities, counties and public departments that miss their audit deadline. The audits reflect how your tax dollars are spent.
“I think the public has a right to know what’s being done with their tax dollars and the audit is the fundamental way we do that in New Mexico and so, if the audit’s out, we don’t have any transparency or accountability in how our tax dollars are being spent,” explains New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller.
Keller says if people have to do their taxes and balance their checkbooks every year, so does the government.
Keller tells us audits are important for appropriations – in how these cities and counties budget for next year. Plus, he says, it’s an issue for any agency that does bonding, or offers financial guarantees. In order for an agency to get their bonds out, they have to have a clean audit.
Keller says sometimes there’s a good reason for late audits – a delay or a change in the accounting firm, for example. Other times, there’s no explanation. That’s where the “At Risk” list comes in. Keller says it provides transparency and accountability.
“Historically, the list has been very effective at this and we usually start at about 50 entities every year and by the end of the year, it’s down to 10 or so,” Keller says.
In addition to listing the last time an agency turned in their audit, the “At Risk” list also indicates whether the audit was in poor order or not. This year, there are 44 agencies on the list. Yet, already, 10 have turned in their audit since the list was released last week.
Keller says the list is updated and republished every month.
He says some agencies are up to 10 years late. Keller says there’s a new program where those entities can get special funding to bring their audits up to date.
For a full list of the public entities that made the list, click here.