SANTA FE, N.M. — Patrick Padilla’s term as Bernalillo County treasurer ended on New Year’s Eve, but he’s still showing up to work at the same place.
The new treasurer, Manny Ortiz, hired Padilla to serve as the office’s part-time investment officer, the same job Ortiz himself had under Padilla.
In an interview Monday, Padilla said he wanted to stay on at least temporarily to ensure someone new didn’t come in and “start cashing out investments” or make other unwise changes.
“If they didn’t understand the thinking on the investments and what we’re doing, it could have been devastating to the county,” Padilla said.
Padilla is working 20 to 25 hours a week for roughly $36 an hour, Ortiz said. He just completed his second consecutive term as treasurer — third overall — and couldn’t run last year because of term limits.
The Treasurer’s Office collects property-tax revenue and distributes it to local government agencies. It manages between $270 million to $500 million in investments, depending on the time of year, Padilla said.
“When you’re dealing with $300 million,” he said, “you can’t just put it in a checking account and hope for the best. It’s very complicated. You have to deal with investment brokers scattered all over the place.”
Ortiz said he checked with the county administration and legal department before hiring Padilla to ensure it was proper despite term limits.
“The county administration cleared him for that,” Ortiz said. “I had the same question.”
County Commissioner Wayne Johnson said the hiring seems “a bit peculiar.” He noted that it’s outside the commission’s control.
“It makes you wonder whether or not we have a new treasurer,” Johnson said.
Ortiz and Padilla both say there’s no question that Ortiz is the one in charge now.
Padilla, in fact, said he is selling some of the county’s longer-term investments “at a huge profit” and making shorter-term investments — at Ortiz’s direction. Shorter-term investments increase the county’s flexibility, Padilla said, but don’t necessarily generate as much income.
Ortiz said the switch in jobs has worked well.
“I don’t look at it as strange myself, personally,” Ortiz said. “Patrick has a lot of training in the investment area. Right at the present moment, when I needed somebody, he was available.”
Padilla’s stint might last only six months to a year, Ortiz said.
In any case, Padilla said that he and Ortiz handled the investments jointly during his tenure, but now Ortiz must learn other parts of the office.
“Right now, he’s getting his feet wet,” Padilla said.
Furthermore, Padilla said, the last time he left office, in the 1990s, “everything I worked so hard for was gone.” Banks stopped accepting property tax payments, for example, making it less-convenient for people to pay their taxes, he said.
The treasurer makes about $66,000 a year.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal