Humane Society, Port Angeles Downtown Association get funding cuts as Port Angeles City Council OKs 2014 budget.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
New Port Angeles City Councilman Lee Whetham, center, takes the oath of office as administered by City Clerk Janessa Hurd at the beginning of the council meeting. Looking on at left is Whetham's wife, Kim.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society will go without $12,350 from Port Angeles city coffers next year after City Council members unanimously approved the 2014 city budget.

The budget also includes the removal of $20,000 in city funding to the Port Angeles Downtown Association, which association President Bob Lumens has said will mean less money available for various association-sponsored events downtown.

This money is typically spent, for example, on organizing the Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony at the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain and planning various programs and promotions that involve multiple downtown businesses, Lumens has said.

The downtown association will still receive about $65,000 in taxes collected from the downtown businesses through the city's Parking Business Improvement Area.

Unanimous vote

The final 2014 budget, approved 7-0 Tuesday night, includes $41,650 in city funds expected to be part of a likely one-year contract with the Humane Society.

The city's current contract with the animal organization, which expires at the end of December, was for three years and provided for $54,000 in city funds annually for taking in and caring for animals brought in by residents.

Kandace Pierce, president of the Humane Society board, described the board as “disappointed but not surprised” at the City Council's final decision.

The city's 2014 balanced budget sits at $128.9 million, with a general fund, which pays for most of the city's operating costs, at $19.2 million.

Other 2014 city budget highlights include $46,350 in health and human services funding, $300,000 to replace the Vern Burton Community Center gym roof and $50,000 for a new boiler at Civic Field.

Pierce said Wednesday that the Humane Society will continue to take animals in, though the society's eight full-time employees working at the U.S. Highway 101 shelter west of town likely will have to rely more on volunteer work and donations of supplies due to the funding cut.

“We don't want to turn anybody away. That's the bottom line,” Pierce said.

Layoffs are not an option, Pierce added.

“[Eight employees] is the bare minimum we can operate from,” she said.

The Humane Society's 2013 budget is roughly $400,000, Executive Director Mary Beth Wegener has said.

Contract talks

Police Chief Terry Gallagher, who has been the city's representatives in contract talks with the Humane Society, said Wednesday he likely will bring forward a one-year contract for council approval at its Dec. 17 meeting.

At the council's Nov. 19 meeting, Pierce brought forward a three-year contract proposal under which the city would have paid the Humane Society $41,650 for 2014, $47,825 for 2015 and $54,000 for 2016.

At that meeting, council members were hesitant to accept the contract with yearly increases in pay because of the uncertainly of what else the city would have to fund in the next two years.

“I think we would be setting terrible precedent by taking that action now,” Councilman Dan Di Guilio said.

Both Pierce and Gallagher said they supported a three-year contract of some sort.

“It takes us out of being in a constant negotiating routine,” Gallagher said.

“But I understand the council's position.”

Pierce said the Humane Society's board will consider a contract with the city when the board meets Dec. 19.

Despite the funding decrease, Pierce said the Humane Society greatly values its partnership with the city.

“I really see us working more closely with the city,” she said. “I'm very optimistic.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 04. 2013 7:07PM
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