Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue – Animal Control in the 21st Century
A new animal control proposal is fresh off the press. With not having the proposal in front of me, I can only go by the Star Press article published today. I have a sneaking suspicion it is very similar to the proposal from last summer. Hence the title, something old, new, borrowed and blue.
Mike Quirk, counsel for the commissioners, came before city council at the December meeting with an animal control plan in his head. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very knowledgeable and one wondered why he had even asked to speak.
Glad he did, the citizens and the city council learned something new that night. It appeared the county was in the planning stages with the city, but the only person included for the talks was President Alison Quirk. Later we found that President Quirk had met with the county council to “discuss” the new animal control. Well, the Mayor wasn’t invited and neither were the city council members. I find that odd. In fact, by the look on our elected official’s faces, this was the first they heard of it.
How could President Quirk and Brad Bookout take a decades old problem called animal control and devise a proposal so quickly? In my opinion it is simple. Just borrow from the old proposal introduced last summer and call it new. Kind of like the marketing tools used to sell products. New and Improved.
Below is a summary from the article and my two cents.
Someone feel free to correct my math. Muncie’s budget is $316,000. Brad Bookout proposes city costs would be $225,000. This doesn’t add up to $200,000 savings for the city as Mr. Bookout said. More like $91,000.
The county has budgeted $75,000 and $25,000 respectively for 2010. Or a ball park figure of $100,000. Bookout proposes county’s share would be $149,000.
The total cost for city/county would be $373,000.
In addition it would be co-funded (is that a word) with the same outside sources, which brings us right back to the problem of people arguing against the “dog tax”.
It looks to me like we just re-invented the wheel. This is not some outstanding new revelation of animal control; it is just the recycled proposal from last summer. This should have been adopted, since it was the best plan.
Mr. Bookout layed out how the appointments would be distributed. Two city council, two county council , one from the mayor, one from the commissioners and one from the sheriff. We know how that will be. Polk, Conaster or Gregory nominates someone and three yeas and six nays from the city council. Then of course we have the hiring of the executive director who is only allowed a 5 year term. You know, “to prevent the job from becoming a political reward”. (They talk a good game, huh?) I fear cynicism will soon overtake my soul, mind and body. The concern on political rewards is an outstanding gesture on their part.
One wonders about the effectiveness or purpose of the board. With a proposed budget of less than $400,000, 7 board members to oversee such a small budget/operations amazed me. The communications board was just disbanded and it was responsible for a $2 million+ budget and a large operation. The sheriff adds $29,000 for animal control and he can make an appointment. The city contributes over a million dollars to 911 and not even allowed to have a say. No political rewards allowed.
If the city updated the ordinances to reflect current costs and fees, and if the union continued to work with the city and if we had all the people who offered to volunteer keep their promises, what type of animal control would we see?
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more humane, effective and efficient animal control, this proposal really needs to be looked over with a fine tooth comb.
One more thing to ponder: The County just barely skimmed through a financial crisis. Their bond rating dropped from AAA to A. If the county continues on the same spending spree as in 2009, what do you think will happen come 2010?
If we have the same people in office controlling the purse strings, and once again the county ends in the red and has no place to borrow, it will be the citizens picking up the slack in increased fees and taxes.
And even if this sounds like a marvelous idea, and Muncie animal control is less than desirable, we can’t just enter into to any agreement which will put us in the financial “dog house”.
Now is the time to start practicing fiscal responsibility. We have spent so many years working from the moment and not looking at the consequences a year or two down the road. We have paid dearly. Just look at what happened when the animal shelter became a political appointment decades ago.
Read the full article. Available for seven days on-line. (12-27-09)