City dog control discussion moves toward final vote


City dog control discussion moves toward final vote

WATERTOWN — City Manager Rick Finn plans to meet this week with Jefferson County officials to iron out an agreement for the county to remain providing dog control to the city.The dog control contract was discussed during Monday night’s City Council work session.Council members have informally agreed it was better to stay with the county for the next five years and allow 14 towns to also continue to have service. Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr., who proposed the deal, reminded council members that the city can explore other avenues and opt out if they can find a way to save money. Mayor Joseph M. Butler and Councilman Cody J. Horbacz urged the city manager to work out the memo of understanding for the dog control contract this week, so that council members can vote on it Monday.Mayor Butler said the city will not have dog control service after Dec. 31 if the MOU is not signed by then.“We don’t have a Plan B for Jan. 1,” Mayor Butler said.Mr. Finn hopes the county will agree to add some language into the agreement that would allow the city to opt out if the city is not satisfied with the new dog control program.“My goal is to get that done this week,” the mayor said.He still believes it would be more cost effective if the city took over the program. Under the agreement with the county, Mr. Finn said the cost will increase $98,000 to $149,400.He’s talked to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Jefferson County about possibly running the dog control program for the city.“The SPCA is doing good things this year,” Mr. Finn said, adding that the SPCA covers dog control for Fort Drum.About 170 dogs are picked up each year by the county program, he said. The SPCA charges $200 a dog, while it would cost $1,300 a dog under the county, he said.But Councilman Horbacz noted that he’s heard it sometimes takes three or four hours to pick up a dog in LeRay and a deputy is tied up that long while it’s happening.Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III said the county is not committed to running the dog control program, but any alternative would have to include all the municipalities currently covered.“The concept as originally discussed … was to put together a good faith MOU,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III.The MOU would not be legally binding, and would supplement the agreement, not amend it. Any alternative dog control service would have to include all the towns and provide the same level of service for the county to agree to it, according to Mr. Hagemann. “If all 15 of those organizations, those municipalities, want to tackle that from a different angle, that’s fine with us,” Mr. Hagemann said.On Tuesday, Jefferson County legislators approved two five-year agreements, one with the 14 towns and one with the city.Several towns have backed out of the county’s dog control program. To continue the program, the county needed a commitment by the city and the 14 remaining towns or the program would end Jan. 1. As of now, only the city has not finally committed.The mayor has said it would be difficult for the city to operate the dog control service on its own. Eight towns have left the dog control program for various reasons, leaving the financial burden split between the 14 remaining towns and the city of Watertown. Times reporter Abraham Kenmore contributed to this report.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
City dog control discussion moves toward final vote

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