Rapozo: Audit Kauai Humane Society

LIHUE — Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo is calling for a performance audit of the Kauai Humane Society following an internal dispute among employees that went public in May and led to months of complaints against the organization.

At the council meeting on Wednesday, Rapozo will introduce a resolution authorizing the county to hire an outside firm to conduct an independent review of the nonprofit. The contract between the Kauai Humane Society and the county gives the county authority to require such an audit.

“The purposes of this resolution is to ensure that funding paid under the county’s contract with the Kauai Humane Society is being used properly and efficiently to address concerns brought to the attention of the Kauai County Council by the public,” Rapozo said in a letter to fellow councilmembers.

Two KHS employees were let go from the organization in June after they publicly questioned KHS’s leadership. Rapozo didn’t return messages to The Garden Island.

“The council has been made aware of the excessive complaints against the Kauai Humane Society, involving the unfair treatment of employees, the existence of a hostile work environment, the policies governing euthanasia, and the high turnover throughout the organization,” Rapozo’s resolution reads. “The acts for which the Kauai Humane Society has been publicly scrutinized involve many services that are funded, either entirely or in part, by the county.”

KHS Executive Director Penny Cistaro welcomed the performance audit.

“I think it will be beneficial for the county to know how their money is being spent by an independent audit rather than just staff at the KHS telling them,” Cistaro said.

KHS receives $760,000 per year from the county, with the rest of its funding coming from private donations and fees. KHS had $2.6 million in total revenue and support for the fiscal year ending in June 2014, according to the KHS website.

One of the main goals listed in the resolution is to also determine whether some of KHS’s responsibilities could be handled more efficiently if done in-house by the county instead of being contracted out. That could mean the county would be responsible for handling animal control field services issues such as investigating abuse cases and pickup of stray animals, while KHS would still provide shelter and care. That means even if some services are broken out, euthanizing animals would still fall under KHS’s area of responsibility.

“We’ve always been open to the idea of the county assuming animal control obligations,” Cistaro said.

Other goals of the performance review include identifying “deficiencies and material weakness of the Kauai Humane Society’s programs” and recommending changes to the organization to produce greater effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the operation.

The Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget includes an allotment of $150,000 set aside for audits.

If councilmembers approve a performance audit, the results are to be made public.

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