Animal control plan takes shape despite funding problems
In the more than two years since the closure of the Putnam County Humane Shelter, the problem has never been a lack of caring people.
As with so many other problems, it's about funding.
Operating the shelter at the capacity county and Humane Society of Putnam County (HSPC) would like will require somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 annually.
On the heels of 2014 budget hearings, county officials are keenly aware that kind of money doesn't simply grow on trees.
However, due to the work of a committee looking for solutions to the county's animal control issues, some solutions may be taking shape, even as the money remains a bit of a question mark.
Phil Gick, who has been chairing the committee in addition to his work as a Putnam County councilman, discussed some of the progress they have made with the Putnam County Commissioners at their Oct. 22 meeting.
Estimates have the annual cost of running the shelter somewhere in the $180,000 to $200,00 range, Gick said.
A large chunk of this can likely come from a combination of the Indiana Dog Tax and a proposed dog licensing fee that will be a part of an animal control ordinance before the commissioners in the coming months.
The first step in the funding will be the state's dog tax, which is already in place, but has not been collected in the county for a number of years.
The dog tax can be for up to $5, of which $1 goes to Purdue and the remainder comes back to the county of collection.
Additionally, on top of a dog tax, a county may charge a licensing fee to help fund shelters, animal control officers and other animal control issues in a county.
With the county likely to go this route, the proposed annual fee for the dog tax and licensing could be about $20 per dog.
Gick said the planners allow for the fact that there is likely to never be 100-percent compliance, and that in early years the number could be extremely low. However, increased compliance two or three years could bring quite a bit of money into the budget for animal control.
With this money in addition to money from the HSPC and an endowment with the Putnam County Community Foundation, the program could operate without money from the general fund over a period of time.
Grant opportunities were also discussed on Tuesday, with Ronald Brown of Brown Engineering Group telling the commissioners he has been talking to committee members and has identified grants that could be available to the county and the HSPC.
The commissioners authorized to move forward with the grant application process.
Gick said the partnership between the county and the Humane Society could pay off in grant applications, as many grants are open to government applications, while others are open to non-profits. With the county and the HSPC working together, both sorts of grants are available.
Also discussed at the meeting was the establishment of an animal care and control director for the county.
This director, while focused on animal control issues, would be a deputy of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. In additional animal control officers would also be under the authority of the sheriff's department.
A nine-member board would advised the director on policy and fiscal matters. This board would be composed of members nominated by the city or town councils of Greencastle, Cloverdale, Bainbridge, Roachdale, Fillmore and Russellville; the Heritage Lake Homeowners Association; HSPC; and the Putnam County Sheriff.
All nominees would then be appointed by the Putnam County Commissioners.
The provisions of the proposed ordinance were before the commissioners to read and propose any revisions.
The ordinance will be advertised prior to any public vote at an upcoming commissioners meeting.