Recently, I was very disappointed by the court’s decision to limit our audit of the Hempstead Animal Shelter (“Shelter”) to only a fiscal examination and not to the more comprehensive operational review.
This ruling meant that the Comptroller’s Office could not have access to inspect the shelter, and review: animal treatment records, the qualifications of personnel at the shelter, the procedures related to the treatment of animals, the Shelter’s adoption policies, the Shelter’s intake, adoption, and the euthanization records which are the key metrics necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of a shelters' operation.
The Town's Animal Shelter has a budget of over $3 million for salaries alone. Residents have the right to know if the shelter is hiring qualified personnel. Residents have the right to know that they are paying a fair price for the services the Town Shelter is providing for homeless animals en route to adoption
The Courts limitation of the Comptroller’s ability to conduct an operational audit sends the message to taxpayers that they have no right to know if their money is being spent properly and, by extension, don’t have the right to a transparent government. It is the duty of the Comptroller to ensure that taxpayer money is being used responsibly.
This ruling by the court, in our estimation, is in conflict with the County Charter and the New York State Appellate Court decision in the Matter of Town of North Hempstead v. County of Nassau which upheld our authority to do a comprehensive audit of a Town of North Hempstead Park District. At my request the County Attorney has filed an appeal of this decision. It is also worth noting that in another similar case, a different judge
at the Nassau County Supreme Court upheld the Comptroller’s authority to audit the Town of Hempstead and the Hempstead IDA, without limitation, with respect to the granting of a property tax abatement in the form of a PILOT to the Green Acres Mall.
In the meantime, I find it appalling that the Town of Hempstead is unwilling to answer the allegations of cruelty to animals in its care, but rather chose to stonewall our efforts by fighting us in court and deny the residents transparency. While I am confident that we will prevail in the appellate court, one has to ask, what is it that the Town of Hempstead trying to hide?
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