ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A customer's complaint led to an investigation into the City of Albuquerque's Solid Waste Department that turned up some serious problems with how the agency deals with money.
This all began when an alert customer noticed he only got credit for a partial payment on a bill. The man claimed he paid $175 cash and had the receipt to prove it. But when he got his bill, he'd only been credited for paying $75.
"There was a discrepancy in a receipt that went to treasury," said Jill Holbert, acting director of the Solid Waste Department.
The incident triggered an investigation.
The city's Inspector General found an employee working the payment counter had collected the $175 but changed the city's copy of the receipt by turning the "1" into a dollar sign, shaving off $100. The employee told investigators she was not pocketing the cash and that she often changes the city's copies of receipts to match the day's take to make up for shortfalls.
According to the report, the employee claimed her supervisors knew about the changes, but her supervisor told investigators that the employee was lying.
The IG also found several other problems with how the department manages money.
"We've implemented procedures where we are tightening training of our employees and certification of cash-handling procedures," said Holbert.
Holbert said a supervisor will now double-check all transactions. According to the report, that wasn't happening before. The report also claims several employees had access to the money drawer, so it would be difficult to track down who was responsible for any missing money.
The report recommends securing the money in a safe place and installing surveillance cameras to safeguard the cash.
The employee in question is still working at the department. Holbert said the IG's report didn't show there was any proof she was actually stealing.
At first, the customer who complained was told he needed to pay another $100. The city eventually credited him for the money, said Holbert.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.