Port Angeles could reduce funding for Olympic Peninsula Humane Society by 23 percent [**CORRECTED**]
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
Print This | Email This
Today's PDN Page 1 . . . and read faster, absorb more -- 12/11/13 -06:27 PM
PENINSULA HOME FUND: A hand up for love -- 12/11/13 -08:20 AM
Breakfast special (with a free Peninsula Daily News) continues at 'The Bear' in Sequim -- 12/3/13 -06:20 PM
Sequim woman, 98, injured in wreck receives $1.4 million settlement -- 12/11/13 -06:30 PM
One man in hospital, roommate in jail after reported stabbing -- 12/12/13 -12:37 AM
PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society will have nearly 23 percent less funding in 2014 from the city if a draft city budget proposal is approved.
City Police Chief Terry Gallagher recommended that the city's contract with the Humane Society, which expires at the end of this year, be renewed for $41,645 per year for three years, a reduction of about 22.9 percent from the previous per-year contract amount of $54,000.
“[The decrease] would have a significant impact,” said Mary Beth Wegener, Humane Society director.
Wegener said, however, that a cut would not impact the Humane Society's services to city residents.
“We're going to continue to provide services to city residents even if $41,645 is the number,” Wegener said.
Gallagher recommended the cut Tuesday night during a City Council work session on a proposed 2014 $128.3 million city budget.
The draft budget also has no money for nonprofits providing health and human services to the city's low-income, homeless senior and mentally and physically challenged populations.
Council members are expected to discuss the proposed budget at a 5 p.m. Nov. 12 work session.
The first of two public hearings on the budget is slated for the council's regular Nov. 19 meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.
Last year, city staff also initially recommended such health and human services funding be deleted, but $30,000 was ultimately included in the final 2013 budget for 14 nonprofits.
Kandace Pierce, president of the Humane Society board of directors, plans to attend the council's Nov. 5 meeting and make the society's case for more funding.
“We know that there's support, and we know that we provide an invaluable service that no one else does, that no other agency can,” Pierce said.
“We really enjoy our relationship with the city of Port Angeles. One way or another, we'll work it all together.”
Gallagher said he arrived at the reduced amount for the Humane Society, which is included in the Police Department's budget, after working out the per-resident costs the city and Clallam County pays the Humane Society.
Gallagher said he determined the city was paying more per resident than the county was.
He arrived at the figure he recommends by multiplying the county's per-resident amount, about $2.16, by 19,280 city residents.
“From a negotiation standpoint, I think that's fair, but obviously the [City] Council has the final word on anything of that nature,” Gallagher said.
In an Aug. 15 letter to Gallagher, Pierce said the society determines its costs per animal, not per resident.
Pierce wrote that the county has in its proposed budget a $104,000, three-year contract starting Jan. 1 based on the Humane Society's cost of taking 956 animals from unincorporated areas of the county last year, a figure that works out to $108.79 per animal.
By comparison, Pierce pointed out the city's offer of $41,645 would equate to $64.26 per animal for the 648 animals from within the city limit in 2012.
“The city is offering us $44.53 less per animal for the same level of care,” Pierce wrote.
The Humane Society's 2013 budget is roughly $400,000, with about $246,000, or 61.5 percent, dedicated to animal care, Wegener said.
In a Sept. 9 letter to Pierce, Gallagher said city residents are also county residents and therefore already are paying a portion of county tax dollars going to the Humane Society.
“Our bottom line is that the taxpayers of Port Angeles should not be subsidizing [Humane Society] services that are being accessed by less than 4 percent of our population — assuming each of the 648 animals received by [the Humane Society] in 2012 was brought in by a different citizen,” Gallagher wrote.
Pierce said Thursday she was disappointed in the city's offer but understands the city's budget constraints.
“I think we're all just disappointed but understand that we're not singled out,” Pierce said.
“This is just a process. We're all having to tighten our belts.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 25. 2013 9:48AM