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Examiner
  • City plans study session to address host of questions

  • Armed with several pages of questions and concerns, Independence City Council members Monday night voted to hold a study session next week addressing an agreement outlining control over the new regional animal shelter.

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  • Armed with several pages of questions and concerns, Independence City Council members Monday night voted to hold a study session next week addressing an agreement outlining control over the new regional animal shelter.
    An amendment to an agreement first approved by Jackson County and council members in 2009 had its first reading Monday, and following a motion made by District 1 Council Member Marcie Gragg, the council voted 6-1 to discuss the matter in greater detail at next Monday’s study session.
    “I have a tremendous number of questions,” Gragg said. “...I have a number of significant concerns, and I’d like to get some budget numbers.”
    The Jackson County Legislature – in their final meeting of 2012 – adopted the agreement Monday afternoon, with the goal of opening the new shelter’s doors on Jan. 1. City Manager Robert Heacock said that while the agreement provides for the shelter to open Jan. 1, it could happen several weeks later.
    The changes to the agreement came to council members’ attention on Friday, Gragg said. Under the new agreement, the city would not accept animals dropped off by the public at the city’s animal control field services facility, which is the current shelter at 875 S. Vista Ave. The agreement also states the city cannot adopt animals out of the Vista Avenue property, once the new regional shelter is operating.
    Council members were to vote on the agreement on Dec. 17, but that could change depending upon discussion following next week’s study session. District 2 Council Member Curt Dougherty was the lone opposing vote to discussing the issue in a study session. He suggested tabling the ordinance’s first reading to allow time “to sort this thing out.”
    “I’ve got over three pages (of questions) – I was going to tell you to take your shoes off and get comfortable and that it’s going to be a long night,” Dougherty said. “I feel we’re being ripped off by this, and I’m not going to rush into it without having all the facts. We have a contract, but no one’s got the guts to enforce it. ... I’d like to see this whole thing tabled so we can sort it out – that’s the least we can do for the taxpayers.”
    Despite the relocation of the animal shelter, the city would continue to house and provide incinerator services related to the operation of the regional animal shelter, at no cost to the county or the shelter’s operator, the new agreement states.
    Heacock said the city’s current full-time animal control staff would remain employed through the city and that those functions wouldn’t go away. The new agreement also states the city – at no cost – would promote the Regional Animal Shelter to encourage pet adoptions and the spaying/neutering of pets.
    Page 2 of 2 - He did say that some part-time positions now funded by the city would no longer be in place but that a transition plan for those employees is still in the works.
    “It’s too early to tell if the county would be able to offer them employment through the nonprofit or other means or if the city would be able to offer them employment through other means,” Heacock said.
    Per the new agreement, the county would provide regular information to city officials on the operation of the new shelter, including “intake and disposition” of animals. City and county officials also agree to meet annually to review the regional animal shelter intake numbers and to determine if any major shifts are present in the animal shelter.
    “In the event of a significant shift in numbers, both parties agree that they shall meet and confer regarding management of the animal population,” the agreement states.
    Discussing the agreement in a study session, At-Large Council Member Jim Schultz said, is a good idea.
    “We can have some input from citizens and rescue groups,” Schultz said, “and I think we’ll be able to make a better decision.”
     
     

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