2009-12-27 / Community

If at first you don’t succeed…

Commissioners hoping they have found resolution to animal control issue

HURON COUNTY – After several failed attempts at a addressing the county’s animal control problem, a solution appears to be in the works.

At the last Board of Commissioners meeting, Safety Committee Chairman Clark Elftman said it looks like an affordable solution has been worked out with the Sheriff ’s Department.

Elftman told the Huron County Press on Tuesday that he spoke with Sheriff Kelly Hanson again since that meeting and they were both "on the same page" about how to proceed. He said he expects a motion or resolution to be presented at Tuesday's meeting, which will address "a portion of the animal control issue."

In late November, commissioners had hoped an increase in dog license fees would help pay for an animal control officer, but couldn’t come to a consensus on the particulars of that position.

Prior to voting on a proposal to let the Sheriff ’s Office handle some of the animal control duties, the commissioners voted on a proposed increase in dog licensees.

Current license fees are $5 for altered dogs, $10 for unaltered dogs and $30 for late licenses (all licenses acquired after March). It was suggested that fees be increased to $10, $15 and $40 respectively.

A vote was taken and passed by a 4-3 margin, with Steve Vaughan, Clark Elftman, John Horny and Damrow voting “yes” and chairman Ron Wruble, Dave Peruski and James Leonard voting “no” to raise the fees beginning on December 1, 2010.

The split vote was a sign of things to come at that meeting as the resolution for the animal control officer was up next, which if it passed it would have put the process in motion to have some members of the sheriff ’s department also serve as dog catchers in lieu of hiring an animal control officer.

In bringing the resolution up for vote Elftman, head of the Safety Committee, expressed his reservations to the board. “I have trouble recommending this for adoption, because I will vote against it,” Elftman said.

After the resolution was brought up for discussion, Elftman continued, “I do not think this is in the best interest of Huron County. I’m not in favor if it before or now,” he said. “We have no idea what it will cost for the proposal (because none of those numbers are spelled out).

“We don’t put officers on the road just, because things happen, but to help prevent them,” he said. “An animal control officer would give us full service (in that regard).”

Commissioner John Horny explained that had the increases for the dog licenses taken affect on January 1, he would have easily supported the measure, because it would have been properly funded. “It would have been feasible if the funds came in right now,” he explained. “(At this time) I don’t think we can even offer it to the sheriff.

“We can’t afford it until we fund it.”

Commissioner Kurt Damrow suggested that as affordability goes, this was the best option for now.

Horny agreed. “This is a stop gap measure, but it is one we can possibly afford,” he said.

Chairman Ron Wruble added, “John took the words out of my mouth. It is a stop gap. At this juncture, it is our only recourse or we’ll go 6-8 months with nothing else.”

A vote was taken and the resolution was voted down 3-4, with Damrow, Horny and Wruble voting in favor of it and Elftman, Leonard, Peruski and Vaughan voting against it.

“Back to the drawing board,” Wruble exclaimed.

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