BOSTON (AP) — A nonprofit organization that contracts with Massachusetts to provide services to residents with autism and other developmental disabilities should repay nearly $350,000 in state funds that it used improperly to pay staff, Auditor Suzanne Bump said Monday.
The amount included more than $138,000 to the May Institute's president and chief executive officer, and nearly $211,000 for wages to 10 management staff during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, according to the audit.
"The May Institute provides valuable educational and rehabilitative services to a vulnerable population, but if you do business with the state you have to follow the state's rules when you spend public money," Bump said.
According to financial filings, the May Institute president's payment amounted to more than $376,000 in 2010 and $451,000 in 2011, and the state reimbursed the Randolph-based nonprofit about $140,000 each year in accordance with salary reimbursement limits. State auditors found the May Institute improperly charged the state for additional compensation for the president, which included expenses he should have paid out of his own pocket, such as the personal use of two vehicles, a home health aide for his wife, and day care fees for his grandson. All that time, he was living in Georgia as the agency's operations in that region of the country were struggling.
The executive no longer works for the May Institute.
The May Institute said in a statement that it is reviewing the audit.
"If it is determined that anything does need to be repaid, we will do so," the Institute said.
It has also made changes and tightened controls on the way it pays executives.
An advocate for the developmentally disabled and longtime critic of the state's efforts to privatize services to that population questioned the May's Institute's pay structure.
"Is this really what people in the commonwealth intended when they privatized these services?" Thomas Frain, president of the Coalition of Families and Advocates, told The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/16ELOCh ). "We have the head of a very large organization being paid all this money by the Commonwealth and living very far from the Commonwealth. What was he doing to justify his salary?"