Although the 2013 New Mexico State Fair ended more than three months ago, fair officials have yet to release revenue figures for the 11-day event held annually at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds. That’s the longest it’s taken for those figures to be released in at least a decade.
Expo spokesman Michael Henningsen blames the delay on Expo’s transition from its longtime accounting system to the state’s trouble-plagued SHARE system and to a 2012 audit that has yet to be finalized.
“Our transition to SHARE began in July, and has been like trying to fit square pegs into round holes,” Henningsen said. “It doesn’t have built-in all the hundreds of department codes we use to categorize and properly file income.” Those codes have to be created as income is received, he said, and that has delayed the accounting process.
“Once it’s all done, it’s all done – we won’t see these delays in the future and there will be more transparency,” Henningsen said.
SHARE – which stands for Statewide Human Resources, Accounting and Management Reporting System – was first implemented in 2006 by the administration of then-Gov. Bill Richardson at an initial cost of about $28 million. Problem have plagued the system from the start and, despite several million dollars in attempted fixes, many problems persist, state officials have said.
Expo New Mexico’s 2012 audit has been going back and forth between Griego Professional Services LLC – an outside contractor Expo has used for several years to conduct an independent audit – and State Auditor Hector Balderas’ office. While Balderas, a Democrat, has said the delay in releasing that audit has to do with thoroughness and accuracy, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has said the delay is political.
Balderas has sought clarification on a number of items in the Griego audit, most dealing with a controversial 25-year lease Expo signed with the Downs at Albuquerque racetrack and casino. That lease included construction of a new multimillion-dollar casino on the northwest corner of Central and Louisiana.
Revenues from the State Fair typically account for about one-third of Expo New Mexico’s annual budget, Expo officials have said.
As a state enterprise fund, Expo must pay for itself. Though the state Legislature does not fund Expo directly, it gives the 236-acre fairgrounds capital outlay money to maintain and improve the facilities.