Peace returns to Humane Society Yukon

The Humane Society Yukon's latest draft financial statements were quietly presented last week. "All the controversy's died down," said president Hoby Irwin.

The Humane Society Yukon’s latest draft financial statements were quietly presented last week.

“All the controversy’s died down,” said president Hoby Irwin. Only a couple spectators showed up to the meeting where draft statements from March 31, 2012 to March 31, 2013 were reviewed.

The society’s shortfall as of March 31 was $42,288. At the end of March 2012, the society was $8,557 in debt.

The society’s debt may be higher this year, but it’s a vast improvement over the way things were a couple months ago.Between April and December of last year, the society bled over $90,000. The society spent over $40,000 on fundraisers in that period, but these events only generated $20,000.

In June, the society received over $61,000 in a legal settlement from the Yukon government. The government had taken the previous board to court after it refused to obey government orders. This settlement cleared most of the society’s debts.

The society earned about $415,000 between March 2012 and March 2013. Almost half of that was spent on salaries. But the society received a government subsidy of over $16,000 to help with those costs. That makes the amount it spends on wages comparable to other not-for-profits, said Irwin.

“The books for us look surprisingly good after a year of turmoil,” he said. “No one’s really complaining about the way we’re doing things.”

In the fall, the government found the society had illegally denied memberships. The government ordered the board to re-instate members and hold a special meeting to elect a new board.

The board refused, putting it in violation of the Societies Act. Board members were charged with breaking the law. As the society bled money, over half the staff at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter was laid off. There were concerns the Tlingit Street facility would close altogether.

The society lost its charitable status, so it couldn’t renew its bingo license. Bingos made up about one-third of the not-for-profit’s budget.

A new board was elected at a court-ordered meeting in December. Seann Springford was named president, but resigned in February. Irwin was made president then.Three past board members have pleaded guilty to disobeying government orders and were sentenced to two-year probation in territorial court in May. Past president Shelley Cuthbert has yet to go to trial.

The new board is still figuring out its budget for the upcoming year, Irwin said last week. The heating at the shelter needs to be replaced. And fundraising has been down, partly because of the delayed bingo licence and the public’s lack of confidence, he said.

But the board seems to be overcoming these challenges, Irwin said in an email.