From the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli
Contact: Brian Butry, 518-474-4015
For release: Immediately, November 30, 2012
Auditors found high operational costs at the Hempstead Animal Shelter among other problems, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said today. The audit was undertaken after requests by town residents and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
“The shelter’s finances and animal care issues have long been a concern of town residents,” said DiNapoli. “Our audit has shed much-needed light on several of the problems that plague the operation of this facility. The shelter’s finances need to be more closely scrutinized to ensure that animals receive proper care and taxpayers aren’t paying excessive costs. I want to thank District Attorney Rice and the concerned residents of Hempstead who brought this issue to my office's attention.”
“Comptroller DiNapoli’s comprehensive and thorough audit has shown the Hempstead Animal Shelter to be a case study in mismanagement, poor record keeping, and budgetary incompetence,” said Rice. “While these problems do not rise to the level of criminality, the Comptroller’s review found systemic problems that compromise the public’s confidence and could detract from the shelter’s overall mission and responsibility to its animals and the community. While our investigation found no criminal abuse or neglect of the shelter’s animals, both the animals and taxpayers will be well-served if the town promptly adopts the Comptroller’s recommendations. I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli and his staff for their outstanding work.”
Auditors found operational costs at the Hempstead shelter were greater than the costs associated with animal shelters in the Towns of Islip and Brookhaven in every category reviewed – total costs; costs per animal processed; total salaries; salaries per animal; total health services costs; and health cost per animal.
In 2010, for example, the total salary costs in Hempstead were $2.7 million. By comparison, Islip spent $820,076 and Brookhaven $1.5 million on salaries. The average salary for Hempstead’s 32 full-time employees was $79,247.
Auditors also found that taxpayers outside the town’s 22 villages funded more than $12.7 million of the shelter’s costs because the shelter was not properly accounted for in the town’s general fund. Although the audit only covered a five-year period, this practice has existed for nearly 20 years.
Because operating funds receive tax revenue from different tax bases, town officials must accurately budget and record revenues and expenditures in the proper funds to maintain equity among taxpayers.
The town-wide general fund has a property tax base that encompasses the entire town, including the villages. The town-outside-village fund has a property tax base that encompasses only the portion of the town that lies outside of the incorporated boundaries of the villages. Hempstead officials improperly accounted for and reported the animal shelter’s financial activities in the town-outside-village fund, according to the audit.
Other audit findings include:
· The shelter did not have formal procedures on how to manage, document, approve and verify overtime worked. The town paid $359,408 for 8,860 overtime hours worked at the shelter from 2007 to 2011. The overtime hours reviewed by auditors could not be adequately justified;
· The town-wide general fund inappropriately charged the shelter $3.5 million in 2010 and $2.6 million in 2011 for administrative cost charge-backs.
· Administrative costs charged to various departments did not reflect the actual services received.
· Supervisory staff did not periodically review the office copy of issued receipt forms, and did not investigate and document in writing any variances in information, gaps or missing receipt forms.
DiNapoli recommends town officials evaluate the animal shelter’s operations and present the town board a plan to improve the shelter’s cost efficiency.
The audit also called on town officials to:
· Ensure the animal shelter’s revenues and expenditures are budgeted, accounted for, and reported in the town-wide general fund, as statutorily required.
· Determine the extent to which property taxes have been overcharged to town-outside-village taxpayers and develop a reasonable plan to resolve the taxpayer inequity.
· Adopt a formal overtime policy with detailed procedures to ensure that overtime is preauthorized by the animal shelter director. The policy should include guidelines for what reasons overtime will be worked, and how the overtime will be verified.
· Implement internal controls to ensure duties over cash receipts are properly segregated, and that cash is collected and reconcilable against all source documentation.
· Ensure that all claims for professional services are itemized and that services performed are clearly defined and match the contract services and rates.
Although the town disagreed with some of the audit findings, officials indicated they would implement a number of recommendations. The full response from the town is included in the report.
For a copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2012/hempsteadanimal.pdf
New Hyde Park, Baldwin-based attorneys to challenge actions of town in
Two years. It’s been two years since the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter
(TOHAS) banned three former employees prompting a lawsuit; one year since
the shelter director was “reassigned” after a 20-year-old YouTube video
showcased her cheering the euthanasia of a cat and less than a month since a
second suit was filed against the town, citing violations of the municipal
When will it all end? You be the judge. The town has been entrenched in one
lawsuit and now, two more lawyers are jumping into the fray.
After months of not getting answers to questions about Hempstead Town animal shelter operations, two supporters of animal welfare advocates have sued the town to get their inquires addressed. Attorneys MaryJean Mezzina and Elizabeth Stein filed a lawsuit against the town, Supervisor Kate Murray and Town Attorney Joseph Ra on March 19.
To read more, Click here.
Last year the New York State comptroller said he would audit the financial operations at the Town of Hempstead's animal shelter. Thomas DiNapoli says his office has received hundreds of complaints about the shelter's financial management in recent months. One of these complaints included payments made by the Animal Shelter to the Town Clerk's office.
FOILed documents show that $600,000 was budgeted in 2011 for services to be performed by the Town Clerk's office for the Hempstead Animal Shelter. In 2003, this amount was $36,700. That's an increase of over 1600 percent in only eight years.
To read more, click here.
Letter to the Editor: TOH Animal Shelter Duping the Public
In a letter to the editor earlier this week, Hempstead Town resident Lucille DeFina said that the town, specifically the animal shelter, "continues to dupe the public with their 'smoke and mirror' mentality to waste our tax dollars and secure patronage positions."
See what else DeFina had to say in her letter.
Town Searching for Volunteers for Animal Shelter's Pet Foster Program
Do you love animals? Do you believe that all cats and dogs deserve to live in a nice home with a loving family? If you answered "yes" to either question, the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter wants you to volunteer for The Little One Fostering Program.
Last week News 12 aired a debate between Kate Murray the Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor and Gary Port the Democratic candidate for supervisor.
When the topic of the Hempstead Animal Shelter was brought up, Kate Murray stated that "in her opinion" the Hempstead shelter was the "best Shelter on Long Island "
Wow Kate! REALLY???
Hempstead Animal Shelter to Be Audited By New York State
This video report tells it like it is! It's not pretty.
Hope for Hempstead Shelter encourages the public to accept Kate Murray’s invitation to visit the Animal Shelter and, “…take a look for yourself, see what you see..,” because what you will see is very different from what Supervisor Murray described during last week’s News 12 Long Island Town Supervisor Election Debate.
Kate Murray says, “…you may see one of our full-time veterinarians taking good care of our dogs and cats.” The truth is in cases like #2243, a young mother dog who sat neglected and hemorrhaging for eight days after delivering her pups
Many of our Readers have requested an update regarding the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. You should be aware that the new shelter director formerly worked for Animal Care And Control Staten Island. This is a government run animal shelter which kills many of the dogs and cats it takes in. That kind of "no solution but to kill the cats and dogs" mentality is more prevalent at the Hempstead Shelter than ever before.
I'm sure you remember I reported that Nike the PET Of The Week was recently slaughtered at the Hempstead Shelter.This story is more heartbreaking than I could have ever imagined.
Over ten dogs have been slaughtered at the Hempstead Shelter since new acting director C.. Iacopela was hired. after a "nationwide" search, I guess this is Kate Murray's idea of "shelter reform."
Do you remember when Kate would speak on the radio and at public gatherings saying Hempstead Shelter did not kill? I do. I also knew then that it was not the truth.
The interview with the new leader chosen to run the TOHAS, Cindy Iacopella is filled with hope and promise, but she has a long road ahead of her, given the acrimony and hostility that has been in place for some time now, between the Town Board and shelter management vs the taxpayers, volunteers and animal advocates in the Town of Hempstead.
Rescue Community Speaks Out in Support of New Hire
While it’s no secret that the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter’s practices have been the subject of controversy among members of the local animal rescue community, it appears a new chapter in the saga has officially begun. At the Hempstead Town Board meeting on Tuesday, July 12, Town Supervisor Kate Murray announced the hiring of Cynthia Iacopella as the new assistant director for the Shelter.
The Nassau Unit will be located in the AG's Mineola Office. If they're going to investigate the Town of Hempstead, they're going to be very busy.
(05/17/11) WANTAGH - Former volunteers are accusing the troubled Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter of failing to control the town's potentially dangerous feral animal population.
Gina Granito, of Wantagh, says a feral cat gave birth to four kittens in her backyard shed. When she called the shelter and asked officials to come pick up the kittens and have them spayed and neutered, Granito says she was told to trap the animals herself.
Nearly six months after alleged abuses at the shelter came to light, protesters say nothing has changed at the facility.
As News 12 Long Island has reported, former shelter volunteers said they witnessed animals being neglected and abused.
Rally draws hundreds of concerned residents to Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter.
Video Shows Inhumane Treatment of Kitten and Shelter Director
Elmont Community Blog, 3/15/2011