Ordinance No. 10-2012 adds to and amends many aspects of the animal control ordinance that was previously in effect.
One of the additions -- which would require pet owners to register their animals yearly, for a fee of $5 for an altered animal (spayed or neutered) or unaltered animal for $50 -- didn't sit well with Councilman Dustin Jorgensen after talking with citizens and hearing some opinions.
"My view on it was ... we're punishing those people who take care of their animals, and we're asking them to pay a ... fee to us when the people who already are breaking the rules aren't going to pay that fee upfront; they're going to still break the rules, and then they'll eventually be charged with something later when they break the rule again," Jorgensen said. "We're fining those people following the rules, and that bothers me. I just think that's kind of a silly thing to do, especially when doing it every year -- we ask them to keep paying us for just having a pet.
"I understand why we have that in there -- we're trying to basically raise some money for ourselves so we can afford an animal control officer (to) enforce the (rules). My kind of in-the-middle (suggestion) would be ... I could go for a registration fee if it's a one-time deal, instead of annually. Maybe we just do a one-time registration fee for each pet. Register it and then it's done, whether it's altered or unaltered."
Jorgensen added he isn't a pet owner so his biggest concern is the fines for the stray animals and animals that can cause damage.
Brazil Mayor Brian Wyndham said he understood Jorgensen's hesitance of making responsible pet owners pay the yearly fee, but that fees are a part of life, like paying a premium at stores because of shoplifters.
Wyndham noted the goal of the council is to at some point be able to afford an animal control officer -- instead of having Brazil City Police officers serve that function -- and these fees and fines laid out in the ordinance would be a way of supplementing the officer's salary.
"Once we feel like we have got most of (the animals) registered, it would give us a baseline on what kind of income we would be looking at," Wyndham said.
Wyndham wanted to be clear that the money that was raised through fees and fines would not fully fund the salary of an animal control officer, but it would certainly supplement it.
However, Councilman Sam Glover's opinion differed from Jorgensen's regarding the registration fees.
"The need for the animal control officer is going to be ongoing," Glover said. "We register our cars every year and pay fees every year for our automobiles and other things. I don't have a problem with paying a yearly fee. My dog is altered, so $5, to me, is really nothing."
Glover said he felt responsible pet owners wouldn't mind paying the $5 yearly fee because the services it would help provide would be beneficial to them.
Councilman Brad Deal agreed with Glover, saying the yearly $5 registration fee would also help offset the cost the city would incur when buying new identification tags every year.
Wyndham said the $5 fee wasn't put in place to make it financially hard on anyone.
"I hope it's not a financial hardship for anyone, and I don't think $5 is," Wyndham said. "I could go either way on it. I'd still like to keep the registration, because we've got to be able to identify these pets and link them to a person."
Councilman Tyler Hutcheson said he had done some research into what other towns have done but said Brazil doesn't have to copy another town's rules.
"Looking at what other towns have done ... I think what you'll see is a lot of time they'll have a one-time fee," Hutcheson said. "You're still required to register yearly, but as long as you keep that registration up-to-date, there's no additional fee on top of that.
"I think that's great for the $5 for someone who has an altered pet. I think for someone who has an unaltered pet, we still need that yearly fee because it's still that push to spay and neuter your pets and hopefully start to fix the problem we have."
Jorgensen said he would only vote for the ordinance if the council changed the yearly fee to a one-time fee and then revisit the issue a year from now.
Glover said he thought the opposite way, which would be to accept the ordinance as written, then revisit it in a year.
City Attorney Traci Lawson reminded the council it has to unanimously vote to suspend the rules to pass the ordinance on the first reading.
Glover then made the motion to suspend the rules and pass Ordinance No. 10-2012, which was seconded by Deal.
The unanimous vote was then stifled by Jorgensen.
Lawson then advised the council to move to pass the ordinance on the first reading.
Deal made the motion to pass Ordinance No. 10-2012 on the first reading as it is written, which was seconded by Councilman Ann Bradshaw.
Jorgensen, once again voted against the ordinance.
Lawson then said the process is to revisit the ordinance at the August meeting for the second reading, which at that time will not require a unanimous vote to pass.
Look for a more in depth write up of the changes to the animal ordinance in Saturday's edition of The Brazil Times.