By BRADEN LAMMERS
In the wake of cuts made to the budgets of Jeffersonville city departments, questions have been raised about how donation funds are being spent.
A host of citizens at last week’s Jeffersonville City Council meeting asked city officials what happened, specifically, to money donated last year to the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter.
In August of last year, then-Animal Shelter Director Sarah Green notified the council the shelter had received a $52,165 gift from the estate of Stella Bello. What happened to that donation was the source of concern for many of those who chose to speak during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting.
Trish Roehm with Southern Indiana Animal Rescue raised concerns in an email sent to the News and Tribune that the money that was supposed to be a donation to the city’s animal shelter, but instead went into the city’s general fund and was being used for other city departments.
“I think the confusion lies within the fund itself,” said City Controller Amy Deering at Monday’s meeting. “We have one fund for all donations across [city departments]. But each department has a revenue number and expenditure number. They are segregated by department, so there won’t be any police donations spent on the animal shelter, or vice versa.”
Roehm continued and said that the report for the animal shelter’s donation fund was still a cause for concern.
According to the report Roehm had, the animal shelter is overspending out of its donation fund. Her concern for the “overspending” is that it affects the ability of the city to receive grant funds for the animal shelter, which the animal-rescue nonprofit has been seeking on the shelter’s behalf.
Deering explained that Roehm only had a copy of the expenditure report for the animal shelter and did not have a receipt of the revenues the shelter had brought in for the year. She continued that out of the donation fund, the city had only appropriated $20,000, but the animal shelter donation fund was showing a negative balance of $54,000.
According to a previous report in the News and Tribune, Green said that the shelter’s donation fund was being used to cover costs for animal vaccinations, medical supplies and spay and neutering costs because it had not been built into the shelter’s budget before 2013.
According to a vendor report provided by the city controller’s office, the expenditures out of the donation fund did fall into one of the aforementioned categories.
City Councilman Ed Zastawny explained at the beginning of the year, the city has to estimate how much money it thinks it will spend throughout the fiscal year. For 2013 the amount estimated, or appropriated, was $20,000. Despite having spent $54,000, the council and Deering said the fund still has a positive balance.
“Currently, I show the animal shelter has $18,000 in their donation fund,” she said.
“It’s still there, additional money just has to be appropriated,” Zastawny said of the funds.
The council agreed to bring the appropriation up at their next meeting to bring the fund up to date.
Part of the reason an additional appropriation request may not have been made yet is that the animal shelter is currently without an executive director.
Green announced her resignation in April and it became effective May 1.
Human Resources Director Kim Calabro said at Monday’s City Council meeting the city has been waiting to hire for a number of positions, including a new animal shelter director, but not until the council passes a new salary ordinance.
Mayor Mike Moore reiterated the city is waiting for a final reading on the new employee pay scale and administrative policy ordinance before it hires a new director.
“I would very much like to make that hire, but I am waiting on the council,” he said. “Until that is passed my hands are tied,” he said, referring to the ordinance.
The council approved the first two readings of the ordinance Monday. A third and final vote on the ordinance is required before it goes into effect. The next council meeting is set for May 20.
In the meantime, a shelter employee is acting as the shelter’s director. Beyond hiring a director, the animal shelter is also waiting on the ordinance to be approved to hire two part-time kennel attendants.