Juan Fuentes has his eye on efficiency and effectiveness. As Roswell’s internal auditor, Fuentes is tasked with conducting performance reviews of city department operations, reviewing policies and procedures, evaluating staffing levels and recommending improvements to help the departments and their employees better serve the public and work effectively with each other.
Since starting his job in Roswell earlier this year, Fuentes has spent his time meeting with management, staff and elected officials, reviewing policies and procedures and interviewing staff members. His responsibilities also include evaluating internal controls and developing plans to safeguard municipal assets.
While he is spending much of his time with the city’s finance department these days, he still gets to deal with a variety of other city departments, he points out, since the finance department “touches all aspects of municipal government.” And although his work “is performed as a function of one (person),” he still has plenty of people he works with since his task requires gathering much information and input from staff throughout the city departments.
“I have been very pleased with my interaction with staff,” Fuentes said. “Everyone is friendly, dedicated and willing to help.” He says he is enjoying the “diversity of the work” and is “looking forward to the opportunity to visit and interact with every department of the city.”
Fuentes graduated from New Mexico State University in 1995 and began his local-government career as the city clerk/treasurer for the City of Sunland Park. Throughout the next 22 years, he also worked for the Town of Mesilla and the City of Truth or Consequences.
“When you work for small communities, you must learn all aspects of local-government operations from the bottom up,” Fuentes says in explaining what drew him into the field of local government and what he discovered he liked about smaller municipalities. “It was the diversity of the job that I found attractive and working with fellow co-workers, elected officials and the public to improve citywide operations and services. The challenge of maximizing limited resources to get things done, such as quality-of-life projects, accounting-system conversions and major infrastructure upgrades, was extremely rewarding.”
In coming to his new position in Roswell, Fuentes’ most immediate challenge has simply been “catching up with the learning curve of knowing all the departments and activities and projects underway” while trying as much as possible to avoid disrupting daily department operations as he does his reviews and evaluations.
“I am very impressed with the amount of activity going on at the city, such as the convention center project, recreation/pool complex project, Roswell International Air Center activity, implementation of the new accounting software, and other infrastructure projects,” he says. “One of the unique things I noticed is how active the city committees are to vet and work with staff on operational and policy items before making it to the full (city) council. I find this is a good way to address questions and catch any hiccups before final approval.”
Fuentes realizes that when he meets people — whether it be city employees or members of the public — eyebrows are often raised when they learn he is the city auditor.
“When you hear city auditor,” he says knowingly, “people often think there is something wrong. Auditing is not commonly thought of as performance reviews of departments and operations or how you can improve service delivery.”
But that is exactly what Fuentes is focused on — helping the city government run well so the communities’ citizens are well-served.
Todd Wildermuth is public information officer for the City of Roswell.