Wednesday, March 28, 2007
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City rejects county animal control proposal          Send a link to a friend

[March 28, 2007]  The city of Lincoln sanitation committee and several council members still aren't swallowing a new proposed contract offered by the county for animal control. Present from the committee were chair Melody Anderson, Benny Huskins, Jonie Tibbs, Dave Armbrust and Derrick Crane. Marty Neitzel and finance chair Verl Prather joined the brief discussion Tuesday evening.

The county sent a new proposal to the city last week. In it they offer a one-year contract at $35,000, and it said that they would be requesting 3 percent cost of living increases each year.

Aldermen asked Anderson if there was any explanation for the increase. She reviewed some of the history that she has derived from the past files, but she said there was nothing in the letter explaining the increase. She said that she could not support a 25 percent increase without knowing the reason for the big jump.

Prather agreed that there needed to be more explanation. The city wouldn't agree to a 25 percent increase from anyone without details or someone there to explain it. Several aldermen agreed and wondered at the absence of any county representation to come speak about the matter.

Anderson was asked to go back to the county and ask for a multiyear contract with 3 percent increases each year, starting at the current rate of $27,951.

History and background

Last fall the county proposed increasing the city animal control fee from $27,951 a year to $44,000. The increase was based on a study that divided the costs by community usage and added some needed improvement costs. The study showed that animals brought in from Lincoln represent 79 percent of the costs at the facility.

Annual expenditures at the facility have been running $126,000, with about a $30,000 deficit after revenues, including community contracts. The deficit is budgeted at only $21,000 this fiscal year but was under by $45,553 in 2005.

Lincoln has been under three-year contracts with the county for this service. They began in 1985 at $20,000 a year. 1996 saw the only increase, going to the current rate. Both the city and the county acknowledge that there was an agreement in the past for 3 percent increases that did not take place. The county missed implementing that.

The city said no last fall to the $44,000 for several reasons; one was that they wanted to see the county budgeting for a portion of the costs.

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Also, there were a lot of transitions taking place at the facility that would affect its financial condition. There was a lot of outside help kicking in, adoption organizations reducing the population, contributions for supplies, and there were changes in personnel and services.

According to comments from Vickie Hasprey at last week's county board meeting, animal control administrator Dr. Michael Sanborn and warden Julie Parker wanted the county to lower the rate to $35,000 to help the city ease into the higher rate.

The new rate is based on a study of community usage of the facility. Lincoln represents 79 percent of the current costs. Hasprey said last week that they would be monitoring these figures in the coming years and look at averages over three-year periods.

County board members supported this method as fair to all the communities.

Animal control has been running at an increasing deficit, with the county filling in for the shortage each year. The aging facility has several additional needs: dog cages, a truck, and the roof has been leaking for three years.

The first proposal to the city included the extra needs. The new rate does not. Hasprey said that they would find another means of getting those things done over a couple of years.

The current three-year contract expires on May 31.

The city has a leash law on dogs and therefore must have a means of keeping loose dogs off the streets.

Logan County is required by state statute to provide dog control to unincorporated areas in the county. The county took over the animal control facility located in Lincoln in 1985 and offers municipalities contracts for services.

[Jan Youngquist]

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