Was Sunland Park giving away free utilities?
Has the City of Sunland Park been providing utility services to some residents for free or at a reduced rate?
Investigators aren’t confirming that but say they are looking into allegations.
Evan Blackstone, chief of staff for the State Auditor’s Office, said the focus of the special audit of Sunland Park includes “the city’s adjustments to utility bills and forgiveness of debt related to utility charges.” Asked to elaborate, he said the audit, which is ongoing, is confidential, so he can’t.
Doña Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando was also tight-lipped about the situation. She confirmed that utility payment “issues” have been brought to law enforcement’s attention but said she could not elaborate.
Neither would talk about why the city might have been giving away free utilities. The multi-agency investigation into the city’s dealings has, thus far, led to charges against 11 people that include extortion, voter fraud, bribery and fraud.
Here’s the full list of issues Blackstone said the auditor’s office has looked into thus far:
- “Potential violations of the Procurement Code related to payments made by the city from certain funds and the procurement of services.”
- “Potential violations of the Travel and Per Diem Act and the city’s internal travel reimbursement policy.”
- “Payments from the city’s funds that exceeded the amounts approved by the (N.M. Department of Finance and Administration), which is a violation of law.”
- “The city’s adjustments to utility bills and forgiveness of debt related to utility charges.”
- “Deficiencies in the city’s capital assets – including capital assets, accounts receivables, bank reconciliations, grants and trial related to the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority.”
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