A chart distributed by members of the (STARS) revealed a discrepancy at area animal shelters concerning animal impoundments and funding.
"Animal control is doing more with less," Marjean O'Malley of STARS told the Town Council at a public hearing on the Tuesday. (Read O'Malley's full address to the Council below)
According to the chart, Stratford Animal Control has had 651 animal impoundments in the last year or so. Milford, a city of comparable population, had 295. Yet, Milford's animal control budget for last year was about $130,000 more than Stratford's.
STARS is requesting the Town Council add $17,600 to the Stratford Animal Control budget for fiscal year 2013 beginning July 1, 2012. Mayor John A. Harkins has put forth a budget that increases the current fiscal year's allocation for Stratford Animal Control by $10,000, according to STARS.
About a dozen STARS members attended yesterday's public hearing at . Clad in flourescent yellow T-shirts, they were tough to miss.
The group is requesting the following changes to the mayor's proposed budget:
- Increase part-time salaries from $18,200 to $32,300. Reason: "Not creating or funding these positions means the trained animal control officers are left cleaning kennels many hours each day and unavailable to perform their regular duties."
- Move $10,000 from Dog Food line item to Veterinary Services budget of $9,500. Reason: "Many animals are abandoned due to health issues and state statute mandates that the municipalities medically treat these animals. $9,500 is simply not enough."
- Increase Repair Maintenance Supplies line item from $4,000 to $7,500. Reason: "With the increased size of the building it is necessary to raise the budget allowance in this area."
Marjean O'Malley's Address to Town Council Members
The new Animal Control facility was completed in June 2011 and occupied in September 2011. For those of you on one, or both, of the two Town Councils that approved construction of this building know that capacity was increased by 400 percent.
Animal Control has been running, and functioning on a tight budget even before this move to new facility. An increase to utility costs for the new building was certainly unavoidable.
A small increase to certain line items of the budget are needed in order to remain functional.
The proposed budget provided by the Mayor for you and the residents has some misinformation. This leads anyone reading this to believe that there is a huge increase to payroll and that is NOT TRUE.
The salary amount listed does NOT include one of the three ACOs (animal control officers). Last year the proposed budget came out eliminating one of the 3 positions. By national standards, and in comparision to neighboring towns of similar size (see chart below), they were understaffed.
2012 Comparable Town Animal Control Budget Comparison Chart
Numbers provided by STARSStratford Milford Fairfield Animal impoundments 651 295 425 Animal food budget $1,200 $6,000 $7,500 Maintenance/supply budget $5,400 $16,450 $32,350 Veterinarian budget $9,500 $14,000 $20,000 Part-time staff 1.5 1 5 Full-time staff 3 5 3 Population 49,306 56,424 57,578 Overall budget $226,593 $362,141 $446,594
The ACO was laid off prior to budget, and returned soon thereafter with a gap of several weeks. Salaries remain the same from 2011 thru the present except for contractual increases. Please note that at the recent budget workshop this issue was brought up.
The CAO (chief administrative officer) acknowledged he had noticed that prior to this workshop. Why no action was taken to correct this is unknown.
The percentage increase budget is therefore also incorrect. It is not the almost 48 percent shown on the proposed budget. In fact it is LESS THAN HALF of the increase percentage listed.
I am unclear as to why these numbers are so "off." The figures provided here in further attached documents shows that Animal Control can be given what it needs to function and the overall increase is 23 percent. Fifty percent of that is unavoidable utility expense due to a larger facility.
I have provided along with this correspondence a breakdown by line item what the minimum is that is required and a town comparison chart for your better understanding of how Animal Control is doing more with less.
The hope is that you can see that with these minimal changes Animal Control, rather than being set up to fail, can continue to function with much less than other area towns of similar size with less than half the staff and considerably less funds.
Please contact me with any questions or concerns. I am happy to explain any and everything regarding the budget or Animal Control.
Stratford Animal Rescue Society
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Stratford Patch April 18. Publication date has been changed for layout purposes.