A kitten or a puppy is going to cost a little more in Jeffersonville soon.
A change in rates, and offering a tiered rate structure, is one of several changes J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter Director Charlie Heavrin has proposed.
“Some of the things I’m working on is to become more proactive,” he said. “I think the city and county have been so reactive that we’ve always been behind the eight ball at the shelter, that they’re always playing catch-up.”
But before the changes are implemented, Heavrin was at Jeffersonville’s City Council meeting Monday to ask for $71,850 to make it through the rest of this year.
Council President Connie Sellers referenced that one of the items the shelter had always been reactive to was its utility bills. She said under the previous controller the utility costs ran in the red and usually required a request from the former animal shelter director, Sarah Green, to get the money in order to pay the bills. Green resigned from the shelter in May. The line item for utility costs were also not included in the shelter’s annual budget.
“These were [costs] that weren’t even funded,” Sellers said.
The bulk of the $71,000 requested Monday was to pay for the utility bills and for the shelter’s payroll.
“When I came into the shelter in June, [more than] 60 percent of the budget was already gone,” Heavrin said. “I’ve done everything I can to cover as much as I can with the budget, but for the shelter to make it the rest of the year, I need about $71,000.”
Employee overtime and medication for the animals being purchased for preventative care were cited as the main reasons that 60 percent of the budget had already been spent. Heavrin added that the expenses for animal care alone had been about $40,000. In next year’s budget he has asked for more funding for employees and more funding for animal care.
“I’m looking for ways to cut that back and do things a little different, but for me it’s going to take a little time to come up with some proactive plans I’m working on to solve some of our issues,” Heavrin said. “Once we get our volunteer base in the community that will help [to] offset costs of employees and overtime.”
Another plan Heavrin plans to implement is to change the pricing structure for animals at the shelter. The average cost to care for a cat or a dog, get them vaccinated and spayed or neutered is between $150 to $200, Heavrin estimated. But the shelter is only charging $100 for a male dog $125 for a female dog and $40 for cats. He said that is lower than other area shelters, including the Kentucky Humane Society, which charges $250 for a puppy and $300 for a pure-bred dog
And the price Heavrin is charging now has already jumped.
“I’ve upped adoption fees since I’ve been there,” he said. “I’ve upped some other fees to help offset some costs.”
Another increase in the fees and the implementation of a tiered pricing system for the animals will not occur for at least another month.
Councilman Bryan Glover asked since the shelter has raised its prices has it seen a drop in the number of animals being taken home.
Heavrin said that adoptions have actually increased, but the shelter is still near capacity.
With the revenues the shelter has received, and the funding collected from Clark County, the shelter to date has deposited about $100,000 this year into the general fund, Heavrin said.
He added that he is working on developing ordinances before the end of the year that could bring in additional revenues like implementing a licensing fee for animals and issuing citations for animals. He estimated licensing fees alone could bring in 25,000 to $30,000 in revenue.
A hurdle of funding the shelter next year still exists as the city and the county, along with the other area municipalities have yet to sign a new interlocal agreement. Jeffersonville operates the shelter for the entire county and collects annual funding based on population. A fight between the county and the city erupted earlier this year, and the city threatened to stop accepting the county’s animals, because it owed three years worth of payments to the shelter of $66,500 annually.
A deal was reached, which included leased space in the Clark County Government Building the city had also failed to pay for, in which Clark County would pay Jeffersonville $150,000.
The payments have been brought up-to-date for this year, but for 2014 no deal has been reached.
The council approved the $71,850 in additional expenses for the animal shelter. It also approved a transfer of funds within the shelter’s budget at a total of $26,941.