Cities in Davis County are less than enthusiastic about a proposal that they take over funding for the county's animal control program, Animal Control Director DeAnne Hess said this week.
Hess is making the rounds to city councils, trying to sell them on her proposal to help keep her department at its current level of funding.Citing the cutoff of federal revenue-sharing funds, the county commission last year told Hess to cut her department's $300,000 budget by 34 percent as part of an overall spending reduction by the county.
Hess said the only way she could do that would be to lay off seven of the 11 animal control staff members, including all the field force that responds to animal complaints in the county.
She said Davis County, which built a new animal shelter above Fruit Heights four years ago, has supplied animal control services to its cities for nearly 25 years, in addition to the unincorporated areas of the county and, by contract, to Hill Air Force Base.
Faced with what she said was an unacceptable budget cut directive, Hess said she drew up a counterproposal: Fund the program at its previous level, or close to it, through July 1 and allow her to draw up a cost-sharing proposal to present to the participating cities.
The response of the cities, however, has not been encouraging, Hess said after a presentation to the Kaysville council this week.
Hess worked out a formula where cities would be billed for animal control services based on the number of calls or complaints the department responded to in 1988.
That cost would be cut by credit for revenue generated within the city by sale of dog licenses and other service fees paid to animal control, such as adoption and relinquishment fees, according to Hess.
Kaysville, she demonstrated to the council, would be initially billed for $25,734 for animal control work for 1989. But a vigorous animal licensing campaign, combined with a new and higher fee schedule for services at the animal shelter credited back to the city would probably decrease the assessment to around $19,000, Hess estimated.
Estimates for individual cities drawn up by Hess range from nearly $85,000 for Layton down to around $7,000 for South Weber.
"There's no way Davis County Animal Control and Care can survive a budget cut like that," Hess told the council. "The animal control element would be totally eliminated.
"We would have no capability of responding to complaints in the field. We would be an animal shelter only, pure and simple, similar to the ones operated by the humane society," she said.
Cities now dependent on the county for animal control would have to either hire an animal control officer, including buying a truck and equipment, or turn the responsibility over to its police department, Hess said.
"There's no way a city like Kaysville can fund an animal control officer for $19,000 a year, which I estimate will be their share under my proposal," Hess said.
But to the council, also faced with the task of keeping its spending under control, the $25,000 assessment seems high.