Why is the state
At home in his own equipment yard,
Now, he stands to lose all that.
But things aren't working the way they should.
After the Pacheco Fire raged in the Sangre de Cristos, the
For about three months in early 2015, Urban's employees worked out at the reservoir. With loaders, excavators, backhoes and trucks, they built stone and wire walls to hold back mud and ash, dug trenches and hauled away debris. Dam tender
But that job may be the ruin of Urban.
"We've been told by our bonding company that because the state owes us over
Bonding is like insurance, and over the past 24 years, Urban had built his up to bid on bigger and bigger jobs. "When you do work, especially for the government, they require a bond, which is insurance to make sure you finish the project," he says. "Without a bond you cannot solicit these projects through the government agencies, both state and federal."
Technically, it's not a check from the state that he's waiting on. Rather, it's federal money that the state holds onto, and should have passed along to the
And it turns out that Urban isn't the only one waiting: The state owes money to subgrantees all over
At that time, the department had
"We've been investigating a litany of concerns at the department that go back several years," says New Mexico State Auditor
The department hasn't completed its state-required audit for Fiscal Year 2015, which was due in December. It's also on the auditor's "at risk" list - the only cabinet-level agency on the list. And though Keller's office gave them some time to try and fix things, he says that time is running out.
"We will probably be taking some significant action with respect to the agency in the fall if the problems aren't remedied in the next month or so," he says. "There have been several federal audits already and so we're trying to make sure those changes have been fixed. But there's also been lots and lots of turnover in the department, and that's why we're concerned about the short term viability of the department to even function as it should."
SFR reached out to
That didn't work either.
The state agency dodged repeated requests for interviews with Mitchell or other staff, and ignored requests for information. Its custodian of records tells SFR she doesn't have time to prepare records for inspection in compliance with
Everyone's heard the news of
When a governor declares an emergency,
The federal money is supposed to be held in a special state account. Then, once the work's been done, inspected, and approved the state pays out that federal money to subgrantees that include irrigation districts, municipal governments and tribes.
Exactly what is happening is difficult to say. Subgrantees and their conIt's tractors aren't receiving their funding. And the auditor's office can't get a clear picture of the department's finances.
This isn't the first time the department has held onto money meant for its subgrantees. Four years ago, the Pueblo of
Then, in 2013,
Everyone else, however, appears to be stuck wondering what's going on with their payments.
Meanwhile, Urban's wrapping up a few other projects. Given the department's silence, it seems unlikely that he'll be paid for the Nambé job before he loses his bond rating.
He's getting ready to cut his employees and sell off most of his equipment. And he's still paying interest on the credit he took out for the reservoir job. He's at a loss to see his business go under when the money's sitting in account somewhere.
"What the state's doing is wrong," he says. "It affects small business. If they're here to help a small business, why aren't they by paying after a job is completed, especially a year and a half later?"