The Brazil City Council had a work session Tuesday morning at City Hall to discuss the proposed 2005 budget regarding the Clay County Humane Society. Last year the City appropriated $22,000 for the Shelter. The council planned on a 50 percent cut for next year reducing the funds to $11,000.
Board President Charlie Brown said the Humane Society could not continue to offer the same services they now provide with that reduction and asked for at least $18,000.
Frustration was evident on both sides as they tried to come up with a workable solution. Arthur said money constraints was a major factor and most of the city departments were taking budget cuts.
"The Fire and Police Departments are taking a $100,000 cut each," Arthur said.
Last year they received about $750,000. The 2005 budget will give each department $650,000 for an approximate 13 percent reduction.
Arthur also said another big reason for the proposed shelter cut was what he perceived as a major discrepancy between the Brazil residents and the rest of the county.
"The county paid $26,000 to the Shelter in 2003," Arthur said. "That's approximately $1 per citizen in the county.
"The contract with the city provides $22,000, about $2.75 per person in the city. That's not counting the $1 they're already paying for the county. Brazil residents are paying $3.75 while other county people pay only a dollar. If we used the same formula, maybe the city should only provide about $8,200."
Humane Society Manager Rick Moore said that 70 percent of the calls the shelter receives are from the city.
Arthur asked Brown if the shelter had heard from the county what their proposed budget would be.
"We haven't heard from the county yet, but you guys will probably set the bar," Brown said.
Arthur also pointed out that other municipalities in Clay County such as Clay City, Staunton, Knights-ville, Center Point and all the small incorporated towns don't pay any shelter payment. If they call their police department or Town Marshall regarding an animal control problem, they try to take care of it.
Brown said the shelter simply could not continue to provide the same services they now offer if they received only $11,000.
He explained that maintenance and upkeep on the van alone cost the shelter about $8,000 a year. That included insurance, taxes, tires, general maintenance and gasoline.
Brown said they would like to negotiate with the council and said the bottom line for the shelter was $18,000.
After studying the figures, Clerk Treasurer Tracy Webster said the highest she thought the city could go was $15,000. Brown again said they couldn't provide services for that amount of money.
"If we can't do it, it will fall on the police force," Brown said. "I think they have more important things to do than pick up dogs. We're just $3,000 apart. I hope we can work this out."
When it looked like they had reached an impasse, Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk spoke up.
"We very much need the Humane Society," he said. "We're just not set up to handle animal control. We have rather expensive cars with a lot of equipment in the trunks. We don't want dogs tearing up the cars and it would be inhumane to put them in the trunk anyway. Is there something in the contract that could be tinkered with to make it more feasible?"
The council requested a recess to discuss the matter privately then came back with a new proposal. They offered $15,000 and offered to give the $10 owner pick-up fee to the shelter. They also said they would try to raise the fee to $20.
Both sides seemed agreeable. The Humane Shelter will call an emergency meeting to seek Board approval. The City Council must get approval from the City attorney as well as the Council. City approval for the amended budget will probably not occur before their Jan. 11 meeting.