City of Washington enters contract with PAWS and More

The PAWS and More Animal Shelter has entered into a new three-year contract with the City of Washington to pay for their services, beginning in Fiscal Year 20.

At the Feb. 19 council meeting, Shelter Director Amber Talbot approached the council and asked for an increased funding amount for Fiscal Year 20. This raised concern among council members as the shelter also asked for an increase in funding in Fiscal Year 19.

Talbot explained the reason for the increase in FY20 was because the shelter raised their boarding fees from $15 to $18 and the pickup fee is up from $40 to $60. The shelter recently discovered their fees were lower than countywide fees and made changes to reflect the increasing overall costs. These fees have been raised countywide and this increase in funding formula has been applied to every entity the shelter provides animal control for.

Talbot explained that approximately 25 percent of the government-funded portion for the shelter comes from Washington County. Of that 25 percent, 10 percent comes from animals rescued from county property, 10 percent from animals rescued within Washington city limits and the other 5 percent from surrounding towns, such as Kalona and Riverside, the shelter has an agreement with. Talbot said this number may fluctuate depending on how many animals are rescued from each location but remains relatively the same.

The other 75 percent of funding comes from fundraising, donations, adoption fees, memorials and retail. She said the shelter has benefited from grant funding in the past, but that is strictly for projects and programming, not operational expenses.

Currently, the City of Washington has an animal control officer who takes care of rescuing dogs. Once they are picked up, they are taken to the shelter to hold. If the dog stays for seven days or more, the shelter charges the city a fee which would normally be used to pay for euthanasia, but instead is used by the shelter for the care of the animal in exchange for giving them a second chance at life. This is not reflected in the annual funding request but is instead a separate agreement.

Cats within city limits, Washington and otherwise, are picked up by shelter staff or brought in by citizens. The city is then charged the rate of $18 a day for a seven-day hold for a total cost of $126 per week, per cat. If the cat stays for six days, the city is not charged because the animal has been picked up by the owner and the owner is then responsible for affiliated fees.

If the cat stays for longer than seven days, the city will not be charged any extra fee and will only pay at the rate of $18 a day for seven days which equates to $126 per cat.

At the Tuesday, March 5, meeting, a new contract was approved by the Washington City Council and states instead of setting aside a dollar amount to pay the shelter, the City of Washington will begin to pay for each individual animal beginning FY 21. For FY 20, the city will pay half of the rate increase in order to get themselves up to par.

To put into persepctive, the boarding fee increase is $3. For FY 20, the city will pay half of this increase at a rate of $16.50 per day for seven days, per animal, instead of $18 per day for seven days per animal. In FY 21 and 22, the city will pay the standard fee of $18 per day for seven days, per animal. This changes the formula from the past where the council would set aside money for the shelter to now paying for each individual animal processed times the standard rate.

“This would transition us to basically that actual number of animals times that $18 times seven days, which the city has not done in the past, but is how PAWS has handled their other fees for services for other entities, and we believe that is what’s most fair for all involved,” said Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson.

Dogs are not included in this contract because the City of Washington has an animal control officer who takes them in and a separate agreement has been made to pay for their care.

Mayor Jaron Rosien explained the contract also states a member of the city council will join the PAWS and More board to act as a liaison between the two entities. He explained this is a common practice for all businesses to which the council provides more than $20,000 worth of funding, using the example of himself as a member of the County Minibus Foundation Board.

“Good communication is the foundation of any relationship. I think that’s the case here and I think we’ve put a lot of good provisions in place ... this agreement should essentially be perpetual from here on as long as we can keep communicating and working together,” Hinson said.

The contract states that if neither party would like to change the agreement at the end of the three-year period, the contract will automatically renew. Talbot said she was happy with the new contract and looking forward to the new partnership for the future.

The resolution was passed on a vote of 5-0 as council member Steven Gault was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.