By BRADEN LAMMERS
Talks continue, but no deal has been reached between Clark County and the city of Jeffersonville to draft a new interlocal agreement for the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter.
Jeffersonville has been looking to recover the county’s annual expenses of $66,150 that have not been paid for the last three years. Corporation Attorney Tom Lowe said the previous interlocal agreement drafted in 1991 was set to last for three years. There were two extensions to the agreement, which kept it in place through 1999, the last time it was officially in place.
“The financial information in there is extremely outdated,” Lowe said when presenting to the Jeffersonville City Council earlier this year. “I think after looking at the financial information and the Census information most of [the municipalities] would be quite happy to continue paying nothing ... or continue to pay the ratios they were paying back in 1991.”
At the Clark County Commissioners meeting June 21, county executives told Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore they would pay the bill if the county council would appropriate the money. County Councilman Brian Lenfert said the funds were built into the commissioners budget to pay the costs due the animal shelter, but the commissioners responded that because their budget was cut by more than $1 million, other expenses took priority over the animal shelter fees.
Commissioners have repeatedly pointed to two factors that must be determined before they would enter into another interlocal agreement. One would be for the population percentages to be reflected in the payments due, related to Jeffersonville’s recent annexation, and an agreement be reached on space being leased by the city in the basement of the County Government Building.
CITY MONEY OWED
Jeffersonville began leasing space for its police department to use as an evidence room when the city moved from the then City-County Building into its new location in Quartermaster Court.
“The issue we have is the city owes some money for storage space in the county building,” said Jeffersonville City Councilman Mike Smith.
The commissioners have said the city never paid for the space it was renting.
According to a lease agreement drafted under Rob Waiz’s administration in 2006, when the city moved out of the building on Court Avenue, it was not to be charged a rental fee for the 2,923-square-foot space being used for three years of occupancy.
Beginning in 2010, the city would be charged $3.77 per square foot annually, and the rate would increase each year. In 2011, the rate would increase to $3.82 per square foot in 2011 and $3.87 per square foot in 2012. The totals for each year the city did not pay for the space equaled $11,008, $11,154 and $11,300, respectively.
However, the outstanding balance the county owed to the animal shelter for three years totaled $198,450, a difference of $168,988 that the county would still owe the city.
And when population figures are updated, the amount the county owes jumps even higher.
POPULATION ADDS UP
While there are attempts to determine where the animals brought to the shelter come from, Animal Shelter Director Sarah Green said the shelter is unable to track all of the animals.
She explained when someone drops off an animal a shelter worker will ask for their address, but sometimes animals are left at the shelter at times when it is closed and a number of animals are brought in by animal control officers. In order to develop a payment system, the original agreement was drafted based on population, and there does not seem to be a desire to change that structure.
Lowe put together a cost analysis based on each municipality’s percentage of population and the annual funding amount for the animal shelter. A copy of the cost analysis was provided to the News and Tribune.
According to information, the county’s responsibility from 2010-12 totaled $115,200 per year based on the 25.6 percent of the population living in the county.
Moore said the figures reflect the population with the annexed territories being included in Jeffersonville’s population. Comparing the money owed to the animal shelter — versus the money owed to the county for leased storage space — the difference over the three-year period is $312,136 owed to Jeffersonville.
ANIMAL SHELTER NEEDS
Green said the funding owed to the shelter is needed to help cover its expenses.
When she submitted her 2013 requested budget to the city council, she asked for additional operating expenses. Among the costs left out of the previous year’s budget are vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries, microchips, heartworm tests and twice-a-week visits from a veterinarian to do regular check-ups on the animals.
Smith said the city council approved about $50,000 in additional costs in the animal shelter’s 2013 budget, not including an additional employee Green requested at the council’s Oct. 15 meeting. Green requested the extra employee because the staff is overworked and she is unable to cover shifts when workers have time off.
When the request was made, City Councilman Dennis Julius asked if there were more resources needed to move to a no-kill shelter by late 2013, a decision made by the shelter in partnership with No Kill Louisville, a nonprofit organization, earlier in the year.
“It’s a difference in philosophy,” Green said. “I’m not doing anything, basically that I haven’t done from January on before I made this no-kill partnership. It’s a difference in philosophy. My philosophy takes more work.”
She said the facility has to be staffed eight to 10 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week to properly care for the animals and she has employees work at events and off-site adoptions.
Smith asked if the county paying some off its share would offset the cost of a new employee. Green agreed it would.
Green said with the new employee, there would be five full-time kennel attendants, one part-time attendant — with the potential to hire a second part-time attendant — and an administrative assistant working at the shelter.
WHEN IS A DEAL COMING?
The Clark County Commissioners said at their Sept. 27 meeting they hoped to have an agreement in place in about three to five weeks.
“I think we’re getting close to having a proposal,” Smith said.
Clark County Commissioner Les Young said in an interview Thursday an agreement could be reached sometime next month.
For payments owed, Young offered the county would subtract what is owed for rent in the County Government Building and pay the difference to the animal shelter. However, moving forward, what the payment structure would be is still unknown.
“They recently went to no-kill,” Young said. “I would think that would drive the bill up. If they’re going to charge us more, we’d like to have some say in it.”
Julius said a draft proposal has already been presented to the city council, but he and Smith said that the decision will ultimately lie with the mayor.
“I understand it’s an executive decision,” Smith said.
Moore said he has yet to receive an offer from the commissioners, but said, “the compromise, I’m told ... they’re looking to offer us is a fraction of what they owe.”
Look for news on another agreement being negotiated between the county and city that could affect taxpayers in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.