Records from 2014 show the VP of Finance’s Office signed off on invoices sent by Monument, internally scheduling them for payment. However, as the months passed, by late 2014 invoices and statements sent by Monument showed NNMC behind in payments by hundreds of thousands dollars and incurring thousands in finance charges.[i]
The Rio Grande Sun covered the dormitory project, with a particularly shocking story of how the college had “borrowed” $200,000 from the alumni scholarship fund (The Northern Foundation) to pay Monument. Indeed the college “forgot” to pay back the Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit organization) until contacted by reporters. [ii]
In 2014, the New Mexico State Auditor reported that NNMC violated NM State Statute by “expending funds on capital projects before required approval.” The Monument dorm deal struck between NNMC and Monument (a project led by the Head Basketball Coach, Contractor Ryan Cordova) violated State Statute 21-1-21 (article 12, Section 11), which reads:
“[N]o expenditure shall be made by any state educational institution confirmed by Article 12, Section 11 of the state constitution for the purchase of real property or the construction of buildings or other major structures or for major remodeling projects without prior approval of the proposed purchase or construction or remodeling by the board of educational finance and the state board.”[iii]
Northern’s President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo and four members of the NNMC Board of Regents flagrantly violated the New Mexico State Statute.
In July 2014, the college’s request for a revenue bond to finance the $16 million no-bid dorm project was rejected by the New Mexico Board of Finance.[iv] The rejection by the Board of Finance was covered by The Journal, which noted that according to "Ricky Serna, Northern’s vice president for advancement… the college isn’t giving up on its goal to construct dorms in time for the 2015-16 school year. He said in an email to The Journal, the college is looking at other options for funding, including ‘a public-private partnership or a privately developed building near the College campus.’ The project ‘remains a priority for the College,’ he wrote."[v]
NNMC violated NM State Statute by initiating unauthorized capital projects and expenditures, it raided the Northern Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 (whose Treasurer, Liddie Martinez, is the aunt of VP Ricky Serna), then due to its fiscal instability and malfeasance, the college fell months behind in payments to Monument by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What’s the plan now? The Barcelo Administration hopes to delay or even avoid payment of $650,000. And it continues to promise dorms as it recruits out-of-state and out-of-country athletes. The story will continue to develop.
[i] Original contracts signed between NNMC and Monument, LLC along with samples of invoices available at: http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/monument-llc.html
[ii] Stories ran on 7/24/2014 and 9/6/2014--the latter discussing the raid of the alumni fund. Transcripts of stories available at (scroll to 7/24 and 9/6): http://thenorthernissue.org/
[iii] Violations regarding agreements with Monument, LLC on pg. 55 of 2014 New Mexico State Audit. Available at: http://www.saonm.org/audit_reports/detail/8920
[iv] See full report on NM Board of Finance here: http://www.nnmcstudygroup.org/blog/nnmc-dorms-indefinite-hold
[v] “Plan by Northern to Build Dorms Hits a Major Hurdle,” 25 July 2014. http://www.abqjournal.com/435078/news/plan-by-northern-to-build-dorms-hits-a-major-hurdle.html