The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 22, 2012

Humane society seeks more from city

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Discussions between Clinton officials and the Clinton Humane Society will continue as the agency seeks to nearly double the subsidy it currently receives.  

City Attorney Jeff Farwell provided information to Internal Operations Committee members Tuesday that showed the fees for the Humane Society are rising 17 percent, but the agency has requested the subsidy it receives from the city to go up by 84 percent from $65,000 to $120,000 in their next contract.

“The shelter is really going to go bankrupt dealing with the city if we don’t get this increase,” Humane Society Operations Manager Sandi Bartels said.

Before IOC members discussed the subsidy at their Tuesday meeting, Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich told them he thought the request was outrageous.

“Considering the already heavy tax burden on the citizens and major cutbacks the city has made in the past year, this rate request is an item that as mayor I will veto if passed by the City Council,” Vulich wrote in a memo to Council members.

Humane Society Board member Tammy Olsen and Humane Society employee Jessica Alvarez also attended the meeting, unaware of Vulich’s strong opposition to their funding request.

“If that’s actually the case, I don’t think there’s any sense in us continuing,” Olsen said. “We would like to sit down to talk to you and let you know why we need money, but when the mayor has made such a strong statement about vetoing this, is there any need to go further?”

Farwell also presented the committee members with information on what the city would need to run the services on its own, instead of outsourcing through the humane society.

According to Iowa code, the city is required to take care of animals running at large without rabies shots, but does not have to take care of abused or neglected animals.  

Committee members, however, expressed concern over taking over the services.

Instead, they stated more information was needed, including how other comparable cities handle animal control. Further talks between the group and Farwell are also necessary, committee members advised.

Still, committee member Paul Gassman warned the Humane Society representatives to err on the side of caution as they approach their contract renewal.  

“I think you already see the handwriting on the wall with the mayor, that he would just veto it. You’d have to take your chances to see if the Council would support the veto or not,” Gassman said.

The IOC will revisit the item in December.