The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 4, 2013

UPDATED: Humane Society agreement vetoed

Mayor Mark Vulich also vetoes creation of committee

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — The Clinton Humane Society contract approved by Clinton City Council members was vetoed by Mayor Mark Vulich on Monday.

In vetoing the contract, which included a $120,000 subsidy, Vulich also vetoed the council’s action to create a committee to review the contract that was proposed by humane society representative Ed O’Neill.

 “The yearly subsidy increase from $65,000 to $120,000 was an outrageous and unrealistic request for the taxpayers of Clinton to accept,” Vulich wrote in his veto released Monday afternoon.  

In his veto, Vulich calls the Humane Society unwilling to negotiate any modification to the yearly subsidy. He also stated that the increased subsidy would have impacted the budget for the current fiscal year by more than $22,000, an unexpected expense that had not been budgeted for before the contract was approved. The increase also would affect next year’s budget.  

The mayor also pointed to the proposal to contract with All Pets, Inc. for a subsidy of $40,000 for statutory animal control requirements, $80,000 less than the Humane Society contract.  

 With his veto of the contract, Vulich also vetoed a resolution to create a committee consisting of council member Julie Allesee, Police Chief Brian Guy, and Humane Society representatives Ed O'Neill, Sandi Bartels and Jessica Alvarez.

That committee was to investigate a proposal from O’Neill that he stated could save the city up to $30,000.   

“In my opinion the information regarding costs and potential savings that were supplied to the Clinton City Council encouraging them to form this committee were exaggerated and unsupported,” Vulich wrote. “I feel this was an attempt to entice the City Council into accepting the proposed Clinton Humane Society contract of $120,000 annual subsidy with the promise of saving $30,000.”  

The mayor goes on in his veto to criticize the numbers O’Neill used. Vulich stated the cost of the animal control officer specifically was much lower than claimed by O’Neil. The cost of the animal control officer totalled $94,000, O’Neill claimed. However, figures from Interim City Administrator and City Finance Director Jessica Kinser show the actual cost is $69,792.  

“It is easy to make claims of savings and make promises. The eleventh hour appearance on the night of the vote, making promises and being a peacekeeper all sound impressive. But facts don’t lie,” Vulich wrote.   

The veto can be overridden by the council with a 5-2 vote, the same vote that passed the new contract.  Still, Vulich stated he felt the need to exercise his veto power for the benefit of the citizens.  

“The city of Clinton must be concerned about all the citizens in the City. The citizens cannot continue to pay higher property taxes each year,” Vulich wrote. “There has to be a point where you draw a line and say “NO.’”

The humane society’s previous contract expired on Feb. 1. Neither Vulich nor City Attorney Jeff Farwell would comment on the state of the city’s agreement with the Humane Society given the expired contract.  Humane Society Operations Manager Sandi Bartels declined to comment. O’Neill could not be reached for comment.