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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter – Taxpayer Equity and Management Oversight (2012M-124)


Released: November 30, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the Shelter's financial management and operations for the period of January 1, 2010, to April 30, 2011.

Background

The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter provides services to the nearly 760,000 Town residents that live within the approximately 142 square miles of the Town, including 22 incorporated villages with a combined population of more than 220,000. The Shelter's Director is the executive head and chief administrative officer. The Director is appointed by an elected seven-member Town Board (Board), who also appoints Assistant Directors. The Shelter's adopted budget for 2011 totaled $7.85 million, and the adopted budget for 2012 totaled $8.8 million.

Key Findings

  • Unless otherwise provided by law, the costs of operating the Shelter must be funded by and accounted for in the town-wide general fund. The Town improperly accounted for and reported the Shelter's financial activities in the town-outside-village fund, resulting in town-outside village taxpayers being overcharged approximately $12.7 million over the last five years.
  • 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.
  • The Shelter's total cost of operations per animal of $1,907 in 2010 was $1,699 and $1,179 more than the Islip and Brookhaven animal shelters, respectively.
  • Shelter officials selected multiple vendors to provide the same health services without documenting any differentiation between vendors or restrictions on when which vendors would be used.

Key Recommendations

  • Take action to ensure that the 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.
  • Evaluate the Shelter's operations and present to the Board a plan to improve the Shelter's cost efficiency.
  • Review the contracts with the animal health care providers and consider contract stipulations to differentiate services and times to provide services between the vendors.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236