Santa Fe County, New Mexico

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Transparency Grade
Budget Y
600px-Yes check.png
Elected Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Administrative Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Permits, zoning Y
600px-Yes check.png
Audits Y
600px-Yes check.png
Contracts Y
600px-Yes check.png
Public records Y
600px-Yes check.png
Local taxes Y
600px-Yes check.png
County websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

Santa Fe County is one of 33 counties in New Mexico. It is part of the Santa Fe, New Mexico Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the population was 147,532.[1] The county seat is Santa Fe.

Website evaluation

Last evaluated on an unknown date.

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 5 years.[2]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[3]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[4]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 3 years.
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 3 years.[5]
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[6]
    • Meeting video and audio are available.[7]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2007 are available.[8]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.[9]
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[10]
  • Public Records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by an employee in the County Attorney's office. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[11]
    • A public records form is provided.
    • A fee schedule for documents is provided.
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.[12]
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.[13]
    • Residents are able to pay taxes online.[14]
  • Lobbying
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.[16]
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[17]

The bad



The FY 2011 budget totals $225.2 million, or $187.8 million if inter-fund transfers are excluded.[18] It includes a hiring freeze that is estimated to save $1.4 million.[19]

It also included spending $27,000 on a phone survey to found out the spending priorities of county residents.[20]

Expenditure Amount
Salary and Wages $41,199,530
Employee Benefits $16,612,523
Travel $84,851
Vehicle Expenses $2,221,814
Maintenance $2,216,290
Contractual Services $10,671,970
Supplies $2,149,610
Other Operating Costs $22,053,093
Subsidies and Pass Thru $5,052,500
Capital Purchases $66,835,401
Debt Service $18,723,995
Fund Transfers $37,337,593
Total $225,159,170


Santa Fe County has received $341,226,352 from the economic stimulus package.[21]

Type # of Awards Total Amount Reported Jobs
Contracts 69 $34,150,024 22.54
Grants 228 $306,444,103 1843.21
Loans 1 $632,225 0
Total 298 $341,226,352 1865.75

Public Employees

Elected Officials

There are five elected County Commissioners.[22]

A district map can be found here.

Administrative Officials

The County Manager is Katherine Miller. She is appointed by the County Commissioners and serves as the executive branch.[23]

Valerie Espinoza, the county clerk, was given a prestigious Soaring Eagle Award by The New Mexico Association of Counties for service to NMAC and to the people of New Mexico.[24]

A possible "whistle blower" is now facing a jury trial for allegedly stealing to laptops from the county he maintains he was authorized to borrow. Eddie Garcia worked for the county as an energy specialist and informed The New Mexican in July 2010 of irregularities in a 2002 heating and cooling contract including a possible double payment. Six days after he contacted the paper the Santa Fe Police Department raided his home without a warrant and seized the allegedly stolen laptops.[25]


See also: New Mexico state government salary

The FY2011 budget allocates $41,199,530 to salaries and wages.[26]


See also: New Mexico public pensions

The FY2011 budget allocates $16,612,523 to employee benefits.[27]

Public Employees are now required to contribute an extra 1.75% to their pensions.[28]

Santa Fe County contributes 19.01 percent of gross pay and the employee contribute 3.29% of gross pay for employee pensions.[29]

Double Dipping

In 2010, New Mexico passed a law that outlawed double dipping, or taking a public pension and public salary at the same time. Because of this, poll workers who work to earn the $125 a day will lose their pension for that month. This led to Santa Fe County losing 84 poll workers.[30]


See also: New Mexico government sector lobbying

Santa Fe County last paid for lobbying in 2001 when the County allocated $60,000 to lobby the federal government.[31]

Transparency & public records

The website has a page dedicated to Sunshine.[32] It also has a public records page.[33] There is a request for Public Records form available here.

In 2010, the Sunshine Review had given Santa Fe County a failing grade.[34]


The County Treasurer is Victor Montoya. The county raises revenue from a property tax.[35] Property Taxes can be payed online here.

Revenue Source Amount
Property Taxes $52,577,953
Gross Receipts Taxes $41,758,200
Rev. from Other Gov\'s $13,598,185
Care of Prisoners $3,900,000
All Other Revenue $10,082,992
Budget Cash $65,904,247
Fund Transfers $37,337,593
Total $225,159,170

A Santa Fe couple has filed a lawsuit challenging the state law that caps property tax assessments as violating the state constitution. Under the cap, a home whose value has dropped significantly will not see their property taxes drop an equal amount. During a boom housing market the cap is intended to protect against massive tax increases.


Temple Controversy

The O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) wants to build a 4,600-square-foot temple on the east side of the city. Some residents spoke out against the temple because of lack of water to support it, incompatible with residential neighborhood, and because the group uses hallucinogenic tea which could lead to impaired drivers.[36]

Consultants' fees

Santa Fe County has spent $1.2 million to pay consultants to prepare a Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP), which is about to come before county commissioners for a vote.[37]

Santa Fe County recently adopted a hiring freeze and other budget-cutting measures due to deficit trouble. The county paid more than $600,000 in consulting fees between August 2008 and March 2010 to Planning Works LLC from the Kansas City area and a combined total of nearly $230,000 to two Los Angeles-based firms, Freilich & Popowitz and Miller Barondess LLP, to help craft the county’s SLDP.

The SLDP is a guide for county residents and businesses to follow and this one is an update of the 1999 Growth Management Plan and covers such topics as roads, water usage, land use, economic development, housing, financing, etc.

In June 2010, county officials announced that staff would complete this master plan for Santa Fe County, taking over the work from the private consultants. Capitol Report New Mexico discovered the breakdown of fees after a public records request.

Freilich & Popowitz, LLP Check Number Date Paid SLDP Miller Barondess LLP Check Number Date Paid SLDP Planning Works Check Number Date Paid SLDP
401853 2/24/10 $4,158.00 389253 $2730.17 392016 $64,179.39
402913 3/19/10 $39,105.00 390730 $11,314.43 393870 8/18/09 $24,978.62
403416 3/30/10 $63,112.50 388484 4/15/09 $92,779.40 393779 $89,609.92
407919 7/6/10 $12,771.00 388939 4/28/09 $376.10 400034 1/8/10 $187,402.68
389155 4/30/09 $86,322.79
383204 1/11/08 $116,084.90
380565 10/23/08 $50,399.97
377576 8/6/08 $6,901.67
378914 9/24/08 $8,904.04
377576 8/6/08 $6,901.67
378914 9/24/08 $8,904.04
Total: $119,146.50 Total: $107,200.10 Total: $634,783.98

Mike Anaya on SLDP consultants fees

The total cost of all three consultant firms was $861,130.58.[38]

One of the county commissioners, Mike Anaya, spoke to Capital Report New Mexico about why he thought the prices were too steep.

On November 9, 2010, the commission passed the Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP) by a 5-0 vote after a marathon hearing that lasted nearly five hours. There were 73 people who delivered public statements for and against the plan.

“We want to preserve what we’ve got … and I think that’s what this plan does,” Commissioner Harry Montoya said as he joined fellow commissioners Kathy Holian, Virginia Vigil and Liz Stefanics in voting “yes” for the plan. Commissioner Mike Anaya, who represents District 3 — an area where, judging from the public comments, a good deal of the plan’s opposition came from — indicated he would vote “no” but switched to “yes” after hearing promises that the plan would include amendments at a later date.[39]

Sheriff admits selling supplies on the side

Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano resigned in November 2010 and admitted to embezzling surplus supplies from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office for months. He would sell old protective body vests and other supplies no longer utilized by deputies.

Solano pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud for selling county property on Ebay. He faces up to eight years in prison along with a possible 15 years of probation and up to $137,000 in restitution.[40]

“I have done some things that I should not have done and am ready to come clean and face the consequences,” Solano wrote to staff and supporters.

Undersheriff Robert Garcia was sworn in as interim sheriff by the Santa Fe County Commission and the new sheriff will come into office on Jan. 1.[41]

External links


  1. U.S. Census Bureau
  2. Santa Fe County, Budgets, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  3. Santa Fe County, Staff Directory, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  4. Santa Fe County, Elected Officials, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  5. Santa Fe County, Meetings, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  6. Santa Fe County, Meeting Calendar, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  7. Santa Fe County, Meeting Video and Audio, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  8. Santa Fe County, Audits, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  9. Santa Fe County, Bids, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  10. Santa Fe County, Contracts, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  11. Santa Fe County, Public Records, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  12. Santa Fe County, Property Taxes, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  13. Santa Fe County, Property Taxes, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  14. Santa Fe County, Pay Taxes Online, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  15. Santa Fe County, Lobbying, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  16. Santa Fe County, Zoning, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  17. Santa Fe County, Building Permit, Accessed: Feb 20, 2013
  18. 2011 Budget
  19. Santa Fe New Mexican "Hiring freeze to help trim county budget" (dead link)
  20. Santa Fe New Mexican "Hiring freeze to help trim county budget" (dead link)
  21. Recovery
  22. County Commissioners
  23. County Manager
  24. Cibola Beacon "County officials lauded for leadership roles"
  25. Santa Fe New Mexican "Ex-county worker to face jury trial" (dead link)
  26. 2011 Budget
  27. 2011 Budget
  28. Santa Fe New Mexican "Pension rule hits workers' paychecks"
  29. Santa Fe County Human Resources
  30. Santa Fe New Mexican "'Double dipping' pension rule discourages would-be poll workers" (dead link)
  31. Open Secrets
  32. Sunshine
  33. Public records
  34. Santa Fe New Mexican "Santa Fe County's website ranks top in state" (dead link)
  35. Treasurer
  36. Santa Fe New Mexican "Temple fray reaches pinnacle, but county delays decision" (dead link)
  37. New Mexico Watchdog, Yikes! SF County didn’t just pay $861K for land development plan — it paid more than $1.2 million, Oct. 28, 2010
  38. "Santa Fe County has paid $861,130 in consultants fees for Sustainable Land Development Plan," New Mexico Watchdog, October 6, 2010
  39. "Santa Fe County passes Sustainable Growth Plan," New Mexico Watchdog, November 10, 2010
  40. Reuters "New Mexico sheriff faces possible jail term over eBay sales"
  41. "Santa Fe County Sheriff resigns after admitting selling supplies on the side," New Mexico Watchdog, November 24, 2010