What began as a gift has become a heated negotiation.
During Thursday's special meeting, the Common Council of the City of Brazil approved to offer a one-year animal control contract to the Clay County Humane Society for $12,500.
"The money the city gave to the Humane Society started out as a gift and in recent years it has been part of a contract," Council President Bill Lovett said.
The current contract, which was for three years, expires at the end of the month and the Humane Society presented their own proposal Thursday.
"We are asking for the same amount we did in 2006," Humane Society Board Treasurer Ed Gallatin said about the $25,000 proposal. "The annual rate increases have been removed, but things are getting tough because our costs are up approximately $23,000 in 2006 dollars."
Budget concerns was one of the reasons the council was hesitant to agree to the proposed amount. According to city officials, if the recently passed budget holds up, there would be only $89 left in city funds.
"We passed our budget allowing $12,500, which seems unacceptable to the Humane Society, but I don't know where we can find the money," Council Member Sam Glover said.
Mayor Ann Bradshaw elaborated on how tight the city is financially.
"We had to make major cuts in just about every fund," she said. "We can't even give raises to our employees, and that's the sad part about it."
However, the Humane Society remained steadfast in saying the council's offer was not sufficient.
"There's not a lot we could do for $12,500," Humane Society Board President Bill Bell told the council.
Humane Shelter manager Rick Moore informed the council other options may have to looked into to compensate for the potential reduction.
"We can only employ what we have the funding for," Moore said. "It may come to the point where we either have to start charging city residents to drop off their animals or cut the services we provide to the city."
Bradshaw quickly addressed Moore's comments.
"We had to cut the police and fire contracts as well, but that doesn't mean they're going to reduce the number of calls they respond to," she said.
The council also addressed the potential of property tax dollars from city residents are being "double-dipped" by the Humane Society.
"As a resident of the city, I pay both city and county taxes," Glover said. "Since the county has a contract with the Humane Society as well, and Brazil is part of the county, I am concerned with the tax dollars of city residents being used to pay for two contracts at the same time."
Moore responded by explaining that the majority of calls the Humane Society receives come from Brazil.
"Approximately 70 percent of the calls we respond to are from within the city," he said. "On top of that, the economy is bad and the first thing people are giving up are their pets."
Moore added that it costs the shelter roughly $4.25 per day to take care of one animal.
"Also, we absorb the costs of sending animals to rescue shelters, which includes the required spay/neuter and shots," he said.
Although Gallatin said agreeing to a three-year contract would be "in the city's best interest," the Humane Society left the option of a one-year contract open to the council's discretion, which they utilized.
"I suggest we offer the one-year, $12,500 contract, and if they choose not to accept, we'll have to renegotiate next year," Council Member Steve Lamb said.
The council unanimously accepted the offer and the Humane Society will now review it with its board members.
"All I can do at this time is talk it over with the board of directors," Bell said.
A date for further negotiations has not been set at this time.