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Dog tax collection up for grabs as state changes rule

Thursday, May 18, 2006

County officials may find themselves chasing their tales when it comes to collecting the local dog tax.

Responsibility for that tax collection has been removed from township trustees and is now in the hands of the county, attorney Scott Hoff told the Putnam County Council. The tax can be collected either through the county treasurer's office, or someone can be hired at 75 cents per dog to collect the $5 per dog tax. Or, the dog tax can be eliminated. Hoff said he was concerned, however, that if the county does not have some way of collecting the tax, it will cost the county more in the long run.

The dog tax funds are split with the state getting 20 percent, or $1 per dog, and the county accumulating the remainder. The fund, which now has a balance of about $3,000, can be used to compensate farmers who lose animals to stray dog attacks, and to pay for services from a humane society.

If a person is found to have untaxed dogs, the county can place a lien against the owner's property, Hoff noted. Figuring that each dog should bring in $5 in tax, and only about $3,000 is in the fund, that would average to about 600 dogs that have been taxed. Council member Larry Parker said he would figure that the tax is not paid on one-tenth of the county's dogs.

Council member Richard Lyon noted that the growing coyote and stray dog populations are also a problem.

Hoff suggested that the Humane Society of Putnam County might be an agency able to collect the tax. The HSPC could then receive the 75 cents per dog fee for its efforts.

Hoff said he would contact the HSPC, and if the organization is interested, he will draw up an ordinance that assigns the group as the collector of the tax. The issue could be discussed at the June council meeting.

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