City of Santa Fe settles whistleblower suit for $100K

December 15, 2018 GMT

A former city of Santa Fe finance employee who claimed she was fired for raising concerns about an alleged internal directive to “quit digging” on past-due parking ticket balances has settled her whistleblower lawsuit against the city.

The city will pay its ex-fiscal administrator, Becky Casper, $100,000 in a lump sum and $8,400 in back pay, according to a copy of the settlement, which was finalized last month.

The city did not admit any fault as part of the settlement, which stipulates Casper will drop her claims.

Those claims included the allegation that Casper, who was fired in August, heard an employee working on the city’s multimillion-dollar enterprise and resource planning project, a technology initiative, say she had been instructed to stop prying into overdue parking tickets.

The employee told Casper she had been ordered to forward the past-due balances into one lump sum and simply write them off.

The enterprise and resource planning project is a software overhaul city officials have said is crucial to modernizing and improving the city’s calcified internal procedures.

Casper, who began work at the city in 2015, claimed she was quickly stripped of her duties after raising the issue with both the city manager and deputy city manager, a job title that has since been mothballed, and was fired shortly thereafter.

According to Casper’s original complaint, the administration’s rationale for her termination in August was the “change in city leadership,” which began when Mayor Alan Webber won office in March.

In a brief interview Thursday, Casper criticized the city administration for what she said were poor financial management practices.

“City residents are still not having people be good stewards of their resources,” she said.

City spokesman Matt Ross rejected that characterization, pointing to different reform measures the administration has initiated in the past six months, including the formulation of a new plan for more internal audits, a corrective action plan, new internal controls in response to scathing external reviews, and the execution of a $20 million infrastructure bond.

Casper said she has taken a new job in human resources in Santa Fe.