Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Commissioners explain animal control policy

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Guest Commentary

By Porter County Commissioners Jeff Good, Laura Blaney and Jim Biggs

After reading the November 28, 2018, article in the Chesterton Tribune regarding the proposed contract between Porter County and Chesterton to provide animal intake and animal control services, we, the Commissioners, felt it necessary to respond to the misleading, incorrect and unverified statements that were reported.

It is important for the public to understand that, just like police protection, it is the responsibility of each city or town to provide animal control and animal shelter services for its citizens. County government is only responsible for the areas outside of our cities and towns.

Currently, for animal shelter services, 50.3 percent of intakes at the shelter come from municipalities while they only contribute 13.6 percent of the costs. For animal control, 46.1 percent of officer dispatches are to the municipalities (excluding Portage who has their own animal control unit) and they only contribute 25.2 percent of the total costs.

In August, we provided a new contract to Chesterton and other municipalities along with a fifteen page report which explained how we arrived at the allocation amounts for each city and town. The report was given to Chesterton Tribune reporter Lily Rex at a Board of Commissioners meeting. Anyone can view or download the report at this link:

The report breaks the cost allocation method into two parts: Animal Shelter Services and Animal Control Services. The methods were data driven, based on the number of animal intakes, animal control dispatches and actual costs for both.

For the Animal Shelter portion of the allocation, we ask municipalities to share in $101,818 (30 percent) of the Shelter’s total $339,393 in variable expenses. Variable expenses include hourly wages, veterinary costs, food, bedding, and supplies that are directly driven by the number of animals that come into the Shelter. The County did NOT ask the municipalities to contribute a penny to the additional $360,910 in fixed costs of the Shelter’s operations.

Each municipality was allocated a portion of the $101,818 based on the number of intakes that came from each. Intakes include owner surrenders, seizures, animal bite quarantines, public drop-off of strays, and strays collected by Animal Control.

For the Animal Control portion of the allocation, we ask that the municipalities share in $59,223 of the total Animal Control budget of $233,363. The total budget only includes salaries, taxes and benefits of three full-time Animal Control Officers and a portion of the Shelter Director. It does NOT include the costs of the purchase and maintenance of three animal control vehicles. The $59,223 is the salary, taxes and benefits on one Animal Control Officer position that we determined could be eliminated if the County did NOT provide Animal Control services to the municipalities.

Each municipality was allocated a portion of the $59,223 based on the number of Animal Control dispatches to each. Animal Control dispatches are when an officer is dispatched by the E911 Center or requested by a municipal police department. The data used does not reflect the 948 phone calls received by Animal Control that did not result in the dispatch of an officer.

The new data driven cost allocation methodology is an extremely fair way to determine municipal contract fees. By using this method, the new annual contract fee for the Town of Chesterton is $27,347, a decrease of $3,773 annually, for a total savings of $11,319 over the three year contract period.

The $27,347 that Chesterton is being asked to contribute is only 2.9 percent of our total annual $935,659 budget for both animal shelter and animal control services. In comparison, the County pays $777,119, or 83 percent of the total annual budget.

Additionally, we now have a new state of the art shelter that our citizens can be proud of. By combining a $1 million private contribution with $2.25 million in hospital interest proceeds, this achievement was made without using taxpayer funds or contributions from municipalities.

The Commissioners believe that working together with our cities and towns in a collaborative effort to provide animal control and animal shelter services better serves our citizens in a more cost effective manner.



Posted 12/5/2018




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