Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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Annual pet registration fees to go up

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[September 16, 2009]  During the Logan County Board's adjourned session Tuesday evening a proposal to increase annual pet registration fees was brought to the table for a vote.

The fees, which are currently collected either when an animal is adopted at the Logan County Animal Control facility or when the animal is taken to the veterinarian for its rabies shots, go to support costs of operating the facility.

The current interpretation of Illinois law puts the responsibility on county government to provide animal control for areas outside the boundaries of municipalities and to offer animal control services to municipalities.

The Logan County facility is funded by registration and adoption fees, fines for violations, and annual service contracts with municipalities. Earlier this year, a $200 by-the-call fee was added for going to municipalities without a contract.

In the 2010 budget, municipality contracts are expected to bring in $44,724.

The county is budgeted to supply $12,500 out of the general fund. This is $500 over the amount paid in 2009. There is also $40,000 promised from the county buildings and grounds budget for new kennels, which is part of the discussion below.

As board members discussed the issue, all agreed that maintaining the facility and vehicles has been a struggle for many years. Shortfalls in the local facility's operation have been subsidized by the county's general fund for a number of recent years, which led to a continually increasing negative fund balance. A number of board members agreed this practice needed to stop.

In 2006 the accumulated losses at the facility were projected to be $132,346 by the end of 2007. Two years ago the finance committee began moving to "zero out" this negative fund balance along with several other negative fund balances.

Gradual headway was made in reducing the negative fund balance, but a $21,000 deficit was budgeted for the 2010 fiscal year, due to bringing the facility up to par with adequate heating and cooling, increased energy and fuel costs, and keeping vehicles operational.

Animal control chairman Gloria Luster brought forward the committee's recommendation to increase animal registration fees as follows:

  • One-year registration

    • The current $6 for spayed or neutered would increase to $10.

    • The current $16 for not spayed or neutered would increase to $30.

  • Three-year registration

    • The current $15 for spayed or neutered would increase to $25.

    • The current $25 for not spayed or neutered would increase to $75.

Board member Terry Werth observed that for not spayed or neutered, it's almost a 100 percent increase. "That's a pretty excessive increase," he said. He also said that the amounts were not in line with surrounding counties our size. (See other county rates at right.)

Luster agreed and added that the biggest increase was in the three-year fee for not spayed or neutered, but looking at all the different fee levels, she said, "We are still lower than most (other surrounding counties)."

She added, "We've got to realize, that building can't run for nothing." And she pointed out some of the expenses it takes: paying people for working, vehicle costs, gas, facility costs. "Animal control cannot run out there to pick up an animal for nothing," she said.

She pointed out that having an animal is a big responsibility. When you have an animal, it's not any different from having a child. You have different things that you have to take care of, responsibility not only to take care of your animal, but to your peers, she said, "and there are costs."

Werth asked what was being done to recoup some expense from the towns that get services.

Luster said that the board voted to raise municipality fees, including Lincoln's, with a three-year agreement that included increases according to the consumer price index. "That is in its second year," she said. She gave her word (to the municipalities) on those and said she has one term left in the agreement. "If you want to raise fees after that, it is entirely up to you," she said.

Pat O'Neill said that he was concerned with the hard economic times and that this might lead to more animals being at the facility and higher costs because people can't afford pets.

In response to Werth's comments about the high percentage rate of the increases, finance chairman Chuck Ruben noted that without a time frame on how much and how often those fees have been raised, it doesn't mean anything. He said that those fees have not been raised with any frequency and that if you look at an increase of 3 percent a year, in 12 years the fees would be doubled.

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New board member Kevin Bateman did not feel the increase was that significant. Comparing the $4 increase that would be seen with the one-year fee for spayed and neutered, which changes from $6 to $10, he sees it as less than a penny a day. He didn't remember any significant increase while owning his dog that's now 10 years old. He added that he talked to his neighbors, "and they had no problem with it whatsoever."

Werth held that the $14 increase for a non-spayed or non-neutered animal nearly doubles that cost, as the $16 fee would go to $30.

John Stewart noted that this year money needed to be taken out of the buildings and grounds budget to help pay for the kennels. He acknowledged that there has always been a problem collecting the annual registration fees, which support the facility's operation, "so something's got to give to help pay for the building; one way or another it has to be self-funded."

Luster said that collecting fees has been a big problem for many years. It's difficult to do and many things have been tried. "The court system is full, and they've even tried to go out and collect. Nothing's worked," she said. The committee wrestled with the amounts, going higher and lower, but were finally in agreement with what was proposed, she added.

Based on the 2008 registrations, the fee increases would amount to $31,102. Board chairman Terry Carlton said that based on what is budgeted for the facility next year, this amount would make the facility self-funded. This would be the first time in many years that money would not have to be taken out of the general fund for its operation.

The fee increases passed 8-1-1. Voting yes were Rick Ayleswerth, Kevin Bateman, Terry Carlton, Bob Farmer, Dave Hepler, Bill Martin, Chuck Ruben and John Stewart. Voting no was Terry Werth, and Pat O'Neill abstained. Jan Schumacher was absent.

Surrounding county animal registration fees (S/N: spayed or neutered)

Tazewell County

  • 1 year, $11

  • 1 year S/N, $9

  • 3 years, $25

  • 3 years S/N, $19

Peoria County

  • 1 year, $30

  • 1 year S/N, $12

  • 3 years, $90

  • 3 years S/N, $36

Sangamon County

  • 1 year, $38

  • 1 year S/N, $9

  • No three-year registration available.

Christian County

  • 1 year, $5

  • 3 years, $10

  • No difference if spayed or neutered, $19

DeWitt County

  • 1 year, $17

  • 1 year S/N, $7

  • 3 years, $48

  • 3 years S/N, $18

McLean County

  • 1 year, $20

  • 1 year S/N, $9

  • 3 years, $60

  • 3 years S/N, $26

Mason County

  • 1 year, $20

  • 1 year S/N, $10

  • 3 years, $30

  • 3 years S/N, $20


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