The City of Socorro received an unmodified opinion, the highest level of quality opinion, for its 2022 audit. However, due to inflation, the auditor did recommend the city consider a small rate increase.

Geoff Mamerow with Southwest Accounting Solutions presented the audit for the fiscal year that ended in 2022. It was a no-findings audit, which is also ideal.

“The city of Socorro is very respected in the state for the way it operates with these no-finding audits, being basically a financial success story for the most part, so we want to give kudos to management, staff and governance for both those two items.”

The statement of cash flows for the city’s business funds are still solid, said Mamerow.

“In the past couple of years, I’ve gone to places where inflation’s been devastating  them as far as operating their business funds, because these funds need to operate as much like a business as possible, so I want to give kudos to the fact that you can see your net cash provided by operating is a positive.”

Still, the city will need to consider a small rate increase due to inflation, he said.

“The city of Socorro is not immune to inflation, and we’re getting close to the point where there’s going to have to be a rate increase. The good news is that I’ve been to a couple places that just to operate their utilities, we’re talking a 60 to 100 percent increase. You guys are nowhere near anything of that magnitude. But to avoid the future pain for the present, at some point to keep up with the inflation that’s going on, you’re going to have to have some kind of rate increase.”

The city also received an unmodified opinion on its federal funds.

The City Council also heard an update from Socorro Hospital Chief Executive Veronica Pound. The hospital’s emergency room is seeing 25 to 45 patients per day, said Pound, which is extremely busy. The hospital typically has 11,000 visits per year.

“The state was hit very hard this year, across our nation, with COVID, flu and RSV, and we’re no different,” said Pound. “I know the community’s really frustrated with the wait times in our emergency room, but the wait times across the state are really, really high. It’s not just Socorro.”

With no ICU, patients in need of that higher level of care are transferred to Albuquerque.

The wait time to get a hospital bed can be anywhere from six to 24 hours currently because there are long wait times to get a bed at hospitals across the state, said Pound. The Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque is very full, as is Rust Medical Center, she said. The University of New Mexico Hospital is just taking Socorro’s trauma and pediatric patients.

“That’s all they’ve been taking since we’ve been in COVID, is those type of patients, because they’re, as you’ve seen on the news, over 100 percent capacity too,” said Pound.

The hospital’s quality manager Adrian Morris also updated the Council on the upcoming EMT class, which is being funded by a local donor. The last class had nine EMTs complete. The second upcoming class will be in February or March and offer 12 slots.

The goal of the classes is to build the number of EMT basics. When there is a larger pool of them, the hospital will offer classes for intermediates. The hospital is working with the Socorro Fire Department and with the Very Large Array to train people in emergency medicine. The VLA is rebuilding its emergency medical services, said Morris.

In other business the City Council:

—Discussed allowing side-by-side vehicles to drive on city roads. At present, vehicles can cross roads to get to dirt areas, but not drive with the regular flow of traffic, Socorro Police Chief Angel Garcia informed the council.

—Approved a job description for an Economic Development Director job. Now that the job description has been approved, the position will be budgeted for, said City Manager Donald Monette.

The next Council meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m.