Danville committee: End Humane Society contract

DANVILLE - A committee wants the city of Danville to end its contract with the Danville Humane Society, hire its own animal control officers and build a shelter.

But the plan would cost the city about $250,000 in annual operating costs and more than half a million to expand the county's animal shelter near Tilton.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the numbers are projected expenses, so the final cost could be more, or even less.

Either way, the cost to the city would be more than what it currently pays annually, which is $78,000. It would also mean more for the county, which currently pulls about $150,000 from its general fund for animal regulation, and under this plan would have to contribute about $180,000 a year in operating costs for a combined animal shelter.

Regardless of the additional expense, the animal regulation committee recommended the plan be taken to the Danville City Council for approval. It would also have to be approved by the county board.

Eisenhauer said he will make a presentation detailing the proposal to the city council at its Sept. 4 meeting.

Earlier this year, Danville Aldermen Rickey Williams Jr., Ward 1, suggested forming an animal regulation committee after he and other citizens aired their concerns about the operation of the Humane Society's shelter at 1225 N. Collett St. in Danville. The committee, which consists of Williams, other local government officials and private citizens, has been meeting regularly to explore alternatives to the city's current animal control arrangement with the Humane Society and wrapped up its work Monday night with the recommendation that will be taken to the city council Sept. 4.

According to the research Eisenhauer has been doing for the committee, hiring in-house animal control officers for the city would cost about $148,000 annually. The city also would pay a portion of the operating costs of a combined city and county animal shelter that would be run by a third-party non-profit organization with its own operating board appointed by the city and county.

The annual cost to the city to run the combined shelter would be about $108,000 annually and $180,000 for the county. Eisenhauer said he based those costs on the number of animals that the city and county each take in currently, and the county takes in more. In addition to the city and county contributions, the non-profit organization would have to raise $100,000 a year in donations or other charitable income.

Mike Atchison, a private citizen on the committee, said Monday night that he totally supports this proposal, and he believes that the $100,000 in private donations could be raised on an annual basis. He said the Vermilion County Animal Shelter Foundation raises about $60,000 and that could go toward this effort.

Eisenhauer said he did not include any of the donations the Humane Society raises annually, because that organization can continue accepting animal surrenders even if the city pulls its animal control contract.

So, altogether, the city's annual costs for two animal control officers and its contribution to run a combined shelter would be about $250,000. Currently, the city pays $73,000 a year to the Humane Society, which provides the animal control officers, the shelter and the shelter staff. The city pays another $5,000 for fuel for animal control services.

Eisenhauer said he has estimated that it would take a 4,500-square-foot addition at the county animal shelter on Catlin-Tilton Road to house animals from the city and the county. He said he has estimated that would cost $675,000 and would require a bond issue.

The city and county would each appoint members to the shelter operating board, which also would include a veterinarian, and that group would operate the shelter and be in charge of adoptions and shelter staff. The proposal calls for a director, shelter supervisor, three clerks, seven kennel workers and an adoption coordinator. The county and city would each employ their own animal control officers.

One Danville resident, Lynn McLinden, raised concerns to the committee Monday night about the additional cost of this plan to the city. He suggested that the city contract with the county for its two animal control officers, because the county's costs for such positions is less. That would save the city about $30,000 annually.

Another Danville resident, Vince Koers, questioned whether the city has the financial ability to commit more money to animal regulation. He said it will mean taking money that could be spent elsewhere.

Williams said the city must begin paying more for animal control no matter what direction it goes from here.

If this is the direction the committee, city and county choose, Eisenhauer said, he doesn't anticipate everything being in place until at least the city's next fiscal year, which begins May 1, 2013.

Proposed Danville/Vermilion County animal shelter

Here are the projected expenses/income of combined city and county animal shelter

Expenses

Salaries and benefits; $345,400

Supplies and commodities; $69,700

Travel and training; $4,000

Medical supplies, pet care; $35,200

Professional services/contractual; $11,500

Utilities; $20,000

Dues, license fees; $750

Total expenses; $486,550*

Income

Adoption, boarding, impound fees; $75,100

Euthanasia requests; $2,000

Microchips and miscellaneous; $19,700

City of Danville's contribution; $108,000

Vermilion County's contribution; $180,300

Total revenues/contributions; $385,000*

*Proposal would require an additional $100,000 per year in private donations to cover projected expenses.

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