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.
These documents also show that the only task performed by the Town Clerk for the Animal Shelter is dog licensing (cats are not licensed).
Newsday has reported that the shelter had an animal intake of 3,498 animals in 2010. If all these animals were processed by the Town Clerk for dog licenses, the cost for each animal would be $171 per animal (regardless of whether it was a dog or cat, or previously licensed). The license charged to the public for a dog that is not spayed or neutered is about $10.
The Town Clerk's budget for 2011 is $4,389,962, $4,258,962 (or 97 percent) of this is for salary and wages.
The $600,000 paid by the animal shelter to the Town Clerk represents 13 percent of the Town Clerk's budget. That means, on average, about 1 in 8 employees in the Town Clerk's office spend all their time processing dog licenses. Looking at the entire Animal Shelter budget of $6.5 million for 2011, licensing represents 9 percent of the entire budget.
Does anyone believe that the Town Clerk really spent $600,000 on dog licenses in 2011?
I have personally asked the Town Clerk, Mark Bonilla, at Town Board meetings, what his department does with the $600,000 received from the Animal Shelter. In each case he did not respond. His department even refused to answer a FOIL request for the details of that expenditure.
I've also asked Town Comptroller Kevin Conroy and Supervisor Kate Murray; They also refused to give me an answer to this question.
All supporting documentation (from the Town of Hempstead), including the Administrative Charge budget for the animal shelter from 2002 to 2011, the Town Clerk's 2011 budget, and the Town Clerk's responsibility to the animal shelter has been uploaded with this article.