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Audit: Tax Money Used Improperly

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The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau improperly used tax money to pay for the moving expenses of a vice president hired from California, according to an audit released Thursday.

In a 16-page report, the city’s Office of Internal Audit said the bureau incorrectly used lodgers’ tax money to pay about $4,900 in moving expenses.

The bureau responded to auditors by fixing the problem. It transferred money from its privately funded account to the public account to replenish the money.

Tania Armenta, the group’s vice president of marketing, communications and tourism, said bureau hired “an industry veteran with a proven track record” – Robert A. Enriquez – to fill a vice president position. He was hired from California about two years ago, and the bureau covered his moving expenses, which Armenta said is a typical practice in the business.

A city ordinance says that contractors who get lodgers’ tax money must use their own money to secure personnel for carrying out the work. The nonprofit bureau holds a contract with the city to market Albuquerque as a destination for tourists and conventions. It receives about $5 million a year in lodgers’ taxes and hospitality fees.

“When the interpretation of moving expenses was identified as securing personnel, we immediately reimbursed the money from private funds,” Armenta said. “We have instituted a policy moving forward that private funds must be used for any necessary moving expenses in the future.”

The city’s internal auditors reviewed the group’s contract and spending. They recommended that future marketing contracts include specific performance measures so the city can evaluate the bureau’s success.

“Inadequate contract performance measures hinder the ability of the city and ACVB to monitor the performance and success of the contract,” auditors said in the report. “Such obstacles prevent efficient operation and ultimately impede the promotion of Albuquerque as a destination.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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