The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin will be fully funded next year for animal control services, but the city will soon explore other options.
The Janesville City Council on Wednesday decided to provide the society $125,000 in 2018, as it has annually since 2014, instead of the $62,500 the city in August proposed it spend. By moving money around, the council found enough in the 2018 budget to afford the society’s animal control services.
Budget items the council changed include eliminating $9,000 in expenses by making Janesville Youth Sports Complex users pay for utilities and adding an estimated $10,000 in revenue by promoting dog and cat licensing. The approximately $58,000 deficit will be covered by the applied fund balance, which is basically the city’s savings account.
Councilman Jens Jorgensen was the only member to vote in favor of cutting $50,000 in expenses set aside for City Hall personnel policy revisions and IT system upgrades—two items city employees indicated in a survey they wanted.
Besides paying the full amount or negotiating for a lower amount with the society, police Chief Dave Moore said the city could:
- Issue a request for proposals for vendors that could provide animal control services
- Research a possible intergovernmental agreement with other municipalities for such services
- Respond to animal-related emergencies only
Several council members said the city should issue a request for proposals soon to start preparing for the 2019 budget in hopes of finding a cheaper service.
It’s too late in this year’s budgeting process to do so now, they said.
Councilwoman Sue Conley said she had expected that research to have been done before Wednesday’s meeting.
Councilman Jim Farrell at the last budget meeting asked if it’d be better to pay the society per stray animal taken in rather than a flat fee.
Moore said the flat fee of $125,000 is preferable. The society takes in about 1,000 strays a year.
For example, paying $150 per stray would cost about $150,000, officials said.
In August, city staff said cutting in half its $125,000 contract with the society would provide the city enough extra money to hire another police officer in 2018.
Janesville City Council President Doug Marklein said at the time an extra police officer was a “no brainer” when compared to animal control services.
A month later, Janesville officials found out the state will grant the city in 2018 an extra $583,000 a year for five years. Officials proposed spending the money on two extra police officers and three extra firefighters, among other things.
Still, until Wednesday’s meeting, no official proposed restoring the proposed $62,500 cut to the society.
That didn’t sit well with about a dozen residents who showed up at the council’s regular Monday meeting and implored the council to fully fund the society.
“Anything else is unconscionable,” said resident Sharon Homernik.
Without animal control services in Janesville, pet owners would be unable to reunite with lost animals, strays would run loose across the city and diseases could spread, residents said.
Society Executive Director Brett Frazier said the humane society would be unable to provide full animal control services for the $62,500 the city was proposing.
In his discussions with police Chief Dave Moore, it became apparent the society would accept nothing less than $125,000 for the current level of service, City Manager Mark Freitag said.
“I think we have a very valuable partnership with them right now,” Jorgensen said after proposing to allocate the full $125,000 to animal control.
“I’d hate to lose that.”