Animal control plan takes shape despite funding problems

Sunday, October 27, 2013

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.

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  • Hmmm didn't they try this route before with the Sheriffs Dept and it failed terribly. If memory serves the issue the HSPC had was do to very poor decisions by a board who spent all the money on things that were not needed. I hope that they do get it back to a version like the one that founders of it had before greedy and power hungry people got involved. Although twenty dollars a dog seems quite steep.

    -- Posted by Oh My Goodness on Mon, Oct 28, 2013, at 6:52 AM
  • It appears to me that an annual $20 per dog will be too steep. How will the noncompliance issue be enforced and who will enforce it?

    The $180M-200M annual operating budget is a lot of money with too many sources of revenue with little oversight.

    PC Council and Commissioners should not take a fast track on this.

    -- Posted by Lookout on Mon, Oct 28, 2013, at 10:56 AM
  • $20/dog and a $200,000 annual operating budget means they need to have 10,000 registered dogs in the county to make this revenue neutral which seems very unrealistic to me. I assume that this tax will be levied when you get your dog vaccinated each year so it will have the effect of punishing responsible dog owners and most likely have not effect on the unresponsible ones.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Wed, Oct 30, 2013, at 2:38 PM
  • Hate to say it but this hspc ran fine before it was turned over to the powers that be and or the police many years ago. Greed and power is what sent it south. there is not 10000 dogs in this county that anyone would admit to having. Me for one pay to have my dog/cat vaccinated every year.. When is the last time you ever heard of a dog, let alone a cat with rabies in INDIANA.. we as responsible pet owners pay our dues.. Period I think maybe instead of adding the 15 bucks on top of the 5 bucks .. maybe the county should keep all the money and actually give it to the HSPC..BILL or charge the county and the cities for them picking up or taking in city/county stray's.. again what do we pay taxes for.. I am guessing PUBLIC service.. well do us a service..right.. Just sayin.. OMG really..

    -- Posted by Oh My Goodness on Thu, Oct 31, 2013, at 9:35 PM
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