The Putnam County Council on Tuesday indicated its approval of adding cats to the animal taxes now being collected by the Humane Society of Putnam County.
An ordinance to amend the county's dog tax to charge a cat tax of $5 per feline will be advertised and presented to the council for approval in February. But on Tuesday, council members Jay Fogle, Larry Parker, Mitch Proctor, Darrel Thomas, Roger Deck and Don Walton indicated they would amend the dog tax ordinance to add cats.
Joanne Cole of the HSPC said some kinks have been worked out in administering the dog tax during the last half of 2006, and the organization is now prepared to collect the $5 tax for cats as well. If cats are added, the HSPC will be able to use some of the collected funds for operating expenses of the animal shelter.
As it now stands, the HSPC can keep only 75 cents of each $5 collected per dog tax. The balance goes to the county to pay for animal loss claims filed by people who have had livestock injured or killed due to dog attacks. In the past, the tax was collected by township trustees. But a change in state law allowed the county to contract the collection service to humane societies, and Putnam County officials chose that option last year.
Cole also noted that the county's animal control ordinance goes into effect Thursday. The ordinance requires animal owners to take care of their pets and other animals, and sets penalties for those who don't. The ordinance, which went through three years of revisions before receiving the approval of farmers, hunting groups, law enforcement officials and private citizens, protects not only animals, but also humans.
Anyone wanting more information on the dog/cat tax or the county animal control ordinance can go to the HSPC website at www.hspcanimals.org, or call the HSPC shelter at 653-5739.
Meanwhile, the council also discussed the possibility of meeting with Greencastle officials to talk about local funding options in the event the state legislature decides to cut funding or issue unfunded mandates that local government must enforce.
Council member Thomas said he has talked to Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael about legislation coming through the statehouse, and he said she agrees a joint session to talk about possibilities could be planned.
Thomas said that would be a forum for the fiscal bodies to talk about the meaning of a local sales tax or alcohol and beverage tax. The point would be to see what is involved in finding other sources of funding, not to decide to adopt any new taxes.
"What would the bottom line possibility be for Putnam County," Thomas asked. "I think it's our business to at least find out."
Council president Proctor agreed it could be better to plan for the future, rather than having a short time to react to a state decision.
However, no such meeting date or time was determined.
In other business, the council:
-- Agreed to keep its officers the same. Proctor will continue as president and Thomas will serve as vice president.
-- Approved amended salary ordinances for the county probation and substance abuse treatment program employees.
-- Approved an amended salary ordinance for the employees of the sheriff's department. They received a six percent raise for 2007.
-- Approved two additional appropriations for the sheriff's department -- for $50,000 and $75,000 -- from the Department of Correction to pay for part-time employees and other operational bills at the Putnam County Jail.
-- Approved salary ordinances for the recorder's office, the prosecutor's office, and the clerk's office.
-- Conducted a hearing on the tax abatement request for Cash Concrete. In December, the council approved the company's eligibility for abatement, and this month the council approved the abatement. No comments were received from the public at the brief hearing. The company will construct a new 2,500 square foot office and a 5-10,000 square foot warehouse to be built in two phases. The project will start in March and should be completed by the end of 2009.
-- Approved an additional appropriation request by the county aviation board to transfer $74,745 into its grant account to pay for improvements at the airport.
-- Approved their own member appointments to various boards. Parker will serve as commissioner liaison and on the county plan commission. Walton will serve on the county emergency management board, west central economic development board along with Thomas, and Operation Life board. Deck will attend the humane society and 911 boards. Proctor will attend community corrections meetings. Berry will attend Green-castle/Putnam County Economic Development meetings. and Fogle will attend the Division of Family and Children, and the cemetery board meetings.
The council regularly meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesdays of each month in the courthouse annex, 209 W. Liberty St. Greencastle. The meetings are open to the public.