The impasse over who will pay for animal-control services in Davis County continues as the county's department comes closer to running out of money.
The department's animal-control function is funded through July 1, but hoped-for donations from the cities in the county to extend its operation through the rest of the year do not appear to be coming through.The funding issue was raised Wednesday at a Davis Council of Governments (COG) meeting, and the mayors and city officials represented at the session repeated their stand that the county, which has funded and operated the Animal Control Department for 25 years, should continue in that role.
Commissioner Gayle Stevenson repeated the county's position that cutbacks in funding leave the county with no other choice but to ask cities to shoulder part of the financial burden.
The scrap started in January when county commissioners told the cities that the county animal-control budget was being cut. The county will continue to operate the shelter in Fruit Heights under the plan but after July 1 the cities will have to contribute funds to keep animal control's field officers funded.
Animal Control Director DeAnne Hess formulated a proposal to increase license sales and raise impound and other fees, with part of the funds to be credited to individual cities to help pay the extra costs.
But the cities balked, saying the county has provided the service for decades and should continue to do so.
COG gave the issue to its governmental affairs committee to study and committee chairman Richard McKenzie, mayor of Layton, reported Wednesday that little progress has been made in solving the impasse.
The July 1 date for funding from cities was set because that begins the fiscal year for cities in Utah. Counties operate on a calendar year.
Commissioner Gayle Stevenson Wednesday presented a study done by the Utah Association of Counties and his own research that shows Davis is the only county in the state that pays for animal control on a countywide basis.
In the other counties, cities either pay for their own animal-control officers or, if the county provides the service, pay for it on a contract basis, Stevenson said.
Hess gave the mayors a first-quarter report on the number of animal-control service calls their cities generated, compared to 1988, and how many animals the shelter accepted from each of their cities.
The figures ranged from a small decline for North Salt Lake, which has its own animal-control officer but impounds animals in the county shelter, to an 86 per cent increase in animals accepted and service calls made in Syracuse.
Overall, Hess said she had predicted a 13 percent increase in service calls and animals relinquished to the shelter for the quarter, and the figures show a 14 per cent increase.
Revenue generated through fee increases and stronger efforts in license sale and enforcement increased in the first quarter from $22,000 to about $27,800, Hess told the mayors.
Stevenson told the mayors the county would like to know by May 15 if they are willing to pay the extra money. The cities will be putting their next year's budgets together in May and should plan for the expenditure, he urged.
North Salt Lake Mayor and COG chairman Jake Simmons told the other mayors his city is one of four in the county that hires its own animal control officer. His city budgets $19,000 annually to pay salary and vehicle costs, Simmons said, but only generates about $2,000 annually from license sales.
"It's expensive," Simmons said. North Salt Lake provides animal-control service under contract to West Bountiful, and Clinton and Sunset also have a jointly funded animal-control officer.