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Town Animal Shelter Criticized in Audit

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli releases findings of investigation into fiscal operations at Wantagh facility.

High operational costs, a mismanagement of overtime expenses and poor record-keeping were among the findings of a recent audit on the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Friday.

The audit into the shelter on 3320 Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh was undertaken by DiNapoli’s office after requests by town residents and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. A full report of the audit can be found by clicking here

“The shelter’s finances and animal care issues have long been a concern of town residents,” said DiNapoli in a statement. “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." 

DiNapoli said the audit showed that the shelter’s operational costs were higher than animal shelters in the Towns of Islip and Brookhaven in every category reviewed including total costs and expenses per animal processed. In 2010, the T

Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter’s total salary costs were $2.7 million compared to $820,076 in Islip and $1.5 million in Brookhaven, the audit showed. The average salary for the shelter’s 32 full-time employees was $79,247, according to the audit.

The Town of Hempstead issued a statement in response to the audit results emphasizing that the report shows no findings of mistreating animals or providing substandard care for animals at the shelter.

Hempstead officials also emphasized that they have already implemented some of recommendations from the audit including putting shelter operations into the general fund of the town’s budget as well as addressing operation costs. 

A portion of the Town of Hempstead statement reads: “By adopting the state comptroller’s accounting methodology, the 2013 town budget reflects a $3.37 million reduction in the animal shelter’s budget. Finally, the town has already taken steps to address the comptroller’s recommendations in the areas of cost control and operational oversight. Specifically, computerization upgrades, the implementation of a cost allocation analysis and the adoption of more stringent operational procedures are making the shelter more efficient and cost effective.”

Other findings from the audit were: 
  • 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. 
“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,” said Rice in a statement. “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.” 

This story was written by Andrew Coen.

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Strug Lynn December 01, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Interesting that the ones ripping off the shelter for millions was the TOH itself. And Laurie why are you so hoping to find out animals were abused? That's a little twisted to me. And Robert the workers there ARE civil service employees. But I wonder if they passed tests for their positions.
Strug Lynn December 01, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I suppose you think everyone should make below the cost of living? That's an average, some make significantly more. Some make significantly LESS.
Felix Procacci December 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Time to Audit the entire Town. KATE MURRAY = WASTE; This same story line can be told about each and every department in the Town. DiNapoli has to roll up his sleeves the job has just begun. See the following for other ways Kate Murray wastes your tax dollars : http://malverne-lynbrook.patch.com/blog_posts/hempstead-town-clerk-mark-bonilla-budgets-600k-in-payments-from-hempstead-animal-shelter-in-2011 http://longbeach.patch.com/blog_posts/supervisor-kate-murrays-rain-barrel-program-what-residents-should-know http://malverne-lynbrook.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-what-residents-should-know-about-hempstead-town-s-2012-budget http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzq67LIQ3dw
Laurie Lat December 01, 2012 at 01:57 PM
@ Lynn, I want to find out if animals were/are abused so it can be stopped, I"m not twisted at all, the shelter is twisted, please google "kill the kitty" video if you want to see twisted. I am so glad this got out finally, put an end to those fat cats collecting their inflated saleries and hurting the animals, I am really happy, would love to see your fat face now Kate.
Laurie Lat December 01, 2012 at 01:58 PM
You must be one the the shelter "staff"? Hope you saved your money.
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
They may be classified as civil service, but 9 of them make in excess of $100K. There is a difference between taking a test, getting on a list, and earning the job vs. a job that is created to keep the patronage mill going.
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 02:09 PM
What about that Horan woman in the video, who was transferred from the animal shelter to a $97K job in another department. The fact is that 9 people make over 100K at the shelter. After the Director and the vet, who else should make that much?
Laurie Lat December 01, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Pat Horan should have been fired, she is a disgrace. Abuser.
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Pay scales are set by the job and education and skill required, unless, of course, it is a patronage position. I can't go to my and say that I need to make a certain amount because it is expensive where I live. The market sets the salary for the position.
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I agree that Horan should have been fired, but her case proves my point. They made up a new job for her, and created an inflated salary for that job. Your money and my money support this system. Murray is the ringmaster of this circus.
Rhoffm December 01, 2012 at 02:52 PM
The only fools in this story are the voters in TofH that keep Kate Murray et al in power.
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Many of those voters are people and their families who owe their livliehood to TOH or Nassau County Republican patronage. Low voter turnout favors these incumbents as the connected ones all make sure that they and their families vote. It will never change unless the rest of us vote in large numbers. If the kitchen gets too hot for Murray, the Party will have her step down during her term and appoint someone else, who will be able to run as an incumbent in the next election. They have done this effectively many times. Chicago is known as the center of political corruption, but TOH?Nassau County is right near the top with them.
Laurie Lat December 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Soo true rhoffm
randy December 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
wait till you see the overtime bill from the storm from the town and county, It's gonna blow your socks off. Most employees were working 12 hr days 7 days for a month. wait ................we couldn't even clean up our own mess and still had to hire out of state people to clean up.............shame on them.....
paul December 01, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Is there a law that says we need an animal shelter in Nassau County? If not get rid of it... Send them elsewhere.... Along with Kate Murray..... If not Kate, hire me and I will end the riff raff of corruption in the shelter....
Cheap Sam December 01, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Every day I watch a specific female $100K plus employee arrive late at the facility and usually leave around 1pm-2pm while sitting at my desk from across the street. It doesnt take a Rocket Scientist to figure out what's going on over there. Kate Murray has GOT TO GO!
Laura December 01, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Shame on you...workers deserve to get paid for working 12 hours days 7 days a week...these people are your neighbors who pay taxes, shop in neighborhood stores, have children to cloth and feed...love to see you out there working 12/7 and not getting paid...I would like to thank all the Town, Count employees who left there families, whose homes were also destroyed to help ungrateful people like randy..SHAME ON YOU
Robert Demarco December 01, 2012 at 11:07 PM
You cannot blame the legitimate Town workers for the sins of the politicians and the patronage hires.
randy December 02, 2012 at 12:49 AM
hey Laura first of all I am not ungrateful, what I am saying is that yes of course the employees deserve the ot and whatever comes with it, what I was referring to is the people from outside our town and county who has been carting all the stuff from the disaster areas, why do we need to hire people from out of state when we have a 10%unemployment rate here in nassau and suffolk. You should refrain with your mouth on calling me ungrateful, you know nothing about me.
Kim December 02, 2012 at 01:55 AM
If they don't fire everyone I want to know by how much each of their salaries are being cut since they are all being over paid.
Kim December 02, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Laurie said if they dig deeper they will find abuse because abuse DID occur there. No matter how much they have tried to cover it up, you can't change facts when there are witnesses hence the reason for this audit in the first place.
Lorraine DeVita December 02, 2012 at 03:25 AM
PEOPLE, LEARN from this. do NOT send your children to college , just make a generous donation to the party in power , alot less costly then 4 yrs of college and more productive. they will be employed , well taken care of and probably wont even have to work at anything more stressful then cleaning doggie doo out of a cage for 80k per year.
laura lang December 03, 2012 at 01:41 PM
wait pat horan wasnt fired? I thought she was! I will work there no problem!!!!!
Laurie Lat December 03, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Pat Horan was moved to another high paying position. Real fair right?
Robert Demarco December 03, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Business as usual in Kate Murray's kingdom. Nine out of 29 employees in the Animal Shelter making $100k or more. As I said before, besides the Director and the Vet, what position in that facility should pay $100K?
Cheap Sam December 03, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Joanne Mirenda wasn't fired? WOW! She works 3-4 hours a day at best! What a joke!!!
Brent M. December 03, 2012 at 05:20 PM
BREAKING NEWS>>>> KATE MURRAY is at a photo op .. no not at the TOH animal shelter, no not at the Nassau Coliseum.. No not at any school in Uniondale, Hempstead or Roosevelt.. but GOOD NEWS, she will take credit for Helping rebuild Eisenhower park!!!! LOL
randy December 03, 2012 at 05:29 PM
remember this stuff on election day people....
Robert Demarco December 03, 2012 at 05:41 PM
We need more voters to show up and offset her built-in, dependent conststuency. Against a viable candidate last time, she still got 67% of the vote. That is because her dependent flock of flunkies vote en masse, many people vote along party lines, and most of the rest either don't care or don't educate themselves about how Kate Murray is stealing from the taxpayers. People need to remember the Coliseum and the Animal Shelter. Those two issues will be her legacy.
Laurie Lat December 03, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I am proud to say to voted for Gary.

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