Our View: County financial advisor not present to defend himself

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — It’s always disheartening to find out you are the subject of rumor or hear that a person or group has taken your actions out of context.

This was most certainly the case at the second Sandoval County Commission meeting last month. In his attempt to clear the air, Chairman Dave Heil put an unwanted spotlight on Sandoval County financial advisor Rob Burpo’s position.

During the segment of Heil’s presentation where he pointed to the importance of contract employees and how many the county had, Burpo’s position was highlighted.

Burpo, who has worked for Sandoval County since 1999, has been in the hot seat before, when his position was called into question by County Treasurer Laura Montoya. However, during the August 22 commission meeting, Burpo, who was on vacation, was not present to defend himself.

Commissioner Jay Block made a motion to postpone Heil’s presentation because of this very fact, but he quickly withdrew it after Heil said he would only mention contract employees briefly. After his presentation, he asked Montoya to step forward to clarify a few points about Burpo’s role with the county.

In essence, Montoya told the commission during a lengthy public comment that when Burpo was hired in ’99, his contract was run by the treasurer’s office. At that time, she said, the financial advisor helped that office with investments.

Montoya told the commission Burpo was let go by her office in 2014 because of a 2013 state statute that would not allow any governing investment entity to work for three areas in one government.

Yet, Sandoval County Spokeswoman Melissa Perez said the halt to the work being done by Burpo for Treasurer Montoya was not related to any state statutes. Instead, Perez said Montoya moved the county’s investment funds in 2014 to New Mexico Bank and Trust, away from Burpo’s firm.

Either way, Burpo was not there to present his own take on what was being discussed.

Factually, Burpo was instrumental in presenting the two one-sixteenth tax increases needed to remodel the ailing detention center.

He also guided the commission into voting for a solar farm that would exclusively pump power to the Facebook facility in Los Lunas from a parcel of land that had not been very lucrative. The county went from getting $3,200 a year in property taxes from the parcel to a fixed 25-year tax of $100,000 annually on it.

Also, Burpo played a vital role in helping the county renegotiate the industrial revenue bond with Intel, in essence creating 300 more jobs. This is just to name a few things Burpo was able to present recently.

He seems to be earning his keep, bringing in more money to the county than it pays him.

The matter comes down to integrity. If you are going to talk about someone or his or her position, it is only courteous to have him/her present to clarify and answer questions.

The Observer believes Burpo has been good for the county. If he was not allowed to speak on his own behalf, we will.

Look at Burpo’s track record: It speaks for itself.

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