Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone has reconsidered removing a longtime volunteer group that oversees the cat shelter on town property in East Northport.
Petrone said he will extend to Nov. 30 the contract for the League for Animal Protection of Huntington Inc. Last month, town officials said they would not renew the contract because of the group’s failure to file Internal Revenue Service paperwork.
The IRS revoked the league’s nonprofit designation in 2015 for failure to file the required forms that not-for-profit organizations submit instead of tax returns.
Deborah Larkin, president and treasurer of the group, said it was “wonderful” news and that the league is already in the process of correcting its accounting paperwork issues.
“All of the paperwork is already at the IRS,” Larkin said.
At a June 13 town board meeting, about 25 people addressed the board and asked its members to reconsider removing the league, which has run the shelter since 1982 under an agreement with the Town. At that meeting, Petrone said he had lost confidence in the leadership of the league’s board and that it was the town board’s legal and fiduciary responsibility not to contract with an organization that failed to file proper IRS paperwork and neglected to tell the town it had lost its nonprofit status.
Petrone said the league disappointed the board and him personally, and that the paperwork lapse should not have happened. But he reconsidered after hearing from residents.
“We’ve had a longtime relationship with them, and we don’t want to put them in a situation where they have to rush out of there,” Petrone said. “Giving them until Nov. 30 should give them adequate time. I expect the leadership to take responsibility.”
Town board member Tracey Edwards, who had said after Tuesday’s meeting that an alternative solution should be worked out, praised the reversal.
“We needed to take a step back and focus on doing what was in the best interest of the cats at the shelter, not the paperwork,” Edwards said. “An extension is the right decision.”