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$17K More Requested for Stratford Animal Control

Members of the Stratford Animal Rescue Society (STARS) say, without the increase to its budget next year, Stratford Animal Control is 'set up to fail.'

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."

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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 STARS

Stratford 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.

Regards,

Marjean O'Malley

Stratford Animal Rescue Society

203.767.1930

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Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Stratford Patch April 18. Publication date has been changed for layout purposes.

bpiretti April 20, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Could it be, more dogs roaming? More animals abandoned in Stratford?
bpiretti April 20, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I don't think it is much to ask for more paid help etc at the facility and $17K more is not much to ask for to run the larger Animal Shelter properly.
JRP April 20, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Not sure but Milford has a larger budget and more help. That means they probably actually have time to push programs like spay/neuter to keep the population down and run programs where they educate the people who don't seem to understand that you can't just let your animals roam around freely. I think our town's volunteers spend most of their time cleaning cages and walking dogs and don't have time for programs to keep free roaming animals down because they're too cheap to just pony up $17K. That's peanuts and 100% in the noise when you look at the budgets that some of the other departments have. A lot of them wouldn't notice if they got $17K less than what they asked for.
JRP April 20, 2012 at 02:33 AM
It doesn't really matter if you're "anti-animal" or not. I think we're all for keeping taxes down and having a well run town. If they keep asking for more and more and more money year over year, then eventually it would be time to say "Enough!", but this seems to be justified and money well spent. By putting up $17K more (small beans as far as this budget goes), the facility would actually be able to run the way it's supposed to and volunteers will have time to write grants (bringing in much more than $17K per year on average from non-town monies) and run programs for the community so that people who think it's okay to let their animals roam and not spay/neuter can change. That will save the town money over time and keep our taxes down long term. Besides, have you even looked at the budget? This $17K is tiny compared to what others ask for and seems justified. I see some ridiculously large numbers elsewhere that don't seem to be justified at all--if you need to cut a little here and there, there are huge numbers out there where $17K won't even be noticed and you're guaranteed to get no return on investment, whereas it seems there would be a return on investment with the new animal shelter.
Lori April 20, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Why did the town bother to build a beautiful facility if they aren't going to pay/support it to keep it running properly and take care of it or the animals? There are tons of animals who end up in this shelter and they are very well taken care of by the staff and most of them end up getting adopted. The animals need our help and the town's help to support the shelter and abandoned animals. The shelter can't run the facility, pay medical bills for abused and injured animals, food, etc. with minimal funds from this town. I pay lots of taxes to this town and that's where I want my tax dollars to go.
JRP April 20, 2012 at 02:43 AM
It's to hire new people because they're severely understaffed I believe---it's not like a single part-time employee is going to get a 77% increase in pay. If for $14K you keep the place clean, have no disease outbreaks that cost the town a lot of money, keep the place open more often and adopt dogs/cats out more often and faster, again saving the town money, and free up volunteers to help keep the free-roaming population down and write grants, again saving the town money, that's a pretty good investment.
bpiretti April 20, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Wow Walt, your comment is a bit extreme. Is this a threat Walt?
Jim Ravis April 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Perhaps if Stratford changed its policy for younger volunteers, they would have more free help. I take my daughter to Milford and volunteer there - with her - because Milford's policy allows that.
Tina April 20, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I am a Stratford tax payer and I have been to the new shelter on several occasions. Each time I witnessed the Aco working hard to keep the facility and it's occupants in the best condition. I feel grateful our elected officials gave our animals a lovely, functional clean place where these animals can wait for their new homes. I am confident that they'll also see this increase as a very reasonable one considering the increased size of the facility we now have. May we all be grateful for what we have and strive to give the animals what they are unable to ask for themselves .thank you also for this forum so we can all express ourselves . Tina
Sandra April 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I'm very sadden individuals carry such anger within them and believe the lies circulating around town. For the truth, I recommend researching it and maybe even visiting the animal control shelter. S.T.A.R.S. cares and volunteers for the community of Stratford with both people and animals in mind and in heart. I pray a healing within those needing love.
JimQuinn April 21, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Is there a reason why Stratford has so many more impoundments and such a small budget compared to Milford? Seems crazy. Doesn't make sense that Milford would have a larger budget with less impoundments and more volunteer help from young volunteers like Jim Ravis alludes to above. Either Stratford budget is way too small or Milfords is way too big? It doesn't seem to make sense but maybe I'm missing something. In any case, the new shelter is very nice and we'll adopt our next dog from it, so we support it staying clean and having the part-time positions required.
Semi Happy Resident April 21, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I am not saying to not raise the budget but in the article it states that the 651 animals were impounded in the last year OR SO. I would question the or so part as to how long it actally is. It could mean 1 week to 11 months making the 651 figure inflated as to what is actual compared to the other towns. In addition, the chart states they only have $1,200 for the food budget but yet they want to take $10,000 away from the dog food to put towards vet care. How can they take $10,000 away from a $1,200 amount? In addition, impounded animal owners are charged $15 per day per animal for their care so animal control is reimbursed for the care of some of the animals when their owners pick them up. Those that are not picked up do fall under the town's cost. The chart does seem a bit off from what is shown for figures.
vincent April 21, 2012 at 05:22 AM
The reason that they do not need the large food budget is that do to the generosity of some Stratford citizens and STARS fund raising, there is enough additional food to feed the animals.So the increase there is needed elsewhere. Also I have been a volunteer for the last year and due to the fact that am retired, I spend 3 to 5 hours a day working with and walking the guests. I am continually astounded on how a town the size of Stratford can produce so many abandon pets, although our close proximity to Bpt. may have something to do with it. And you would be surprised that most of these pets are never claimed by their original owners. I don't know if you have any pets but 15 dollars does not go very far in meeting these pet's needs
Semi Happy Resident April 21, 2012 at 08:16 AM
Vincent, I have 1 cat that is 18 years old with special meds for her health, so I very well know the costs to maintain an animal. I don't think that animal control should count on contribtions of others as a means of paying for the food for the animals since there is never a guarantee that you will be able to raise those funds. I know at one point Stratford tried to limit how many animals were at each residence and it failed at the time. ACO's may want to revisit that end again since it will be affecting everyone's taxes if the numbers of guests at the shelter keep increasing. Those that want a large number of animals can apply for a kennel/breeder's permit so that they can have the number of animals they want but will need to meet a higher standard of cleaning, etc so as not to have odors, sounds etc. disturbing their neighbors. In the long run it would probably be more cost effective since the ACO's would have a lower chance of needing to continually go out to address issues and/or court appearances. Plus if anyone had a large number of animals without the permit, the person would be in direct violation of the law and the animals could be removed faster. I have lived in an area where we all had 1/2 acre lots and we were limited to 2 animals per household due to proximity to the neighbors. It worked out very good for the most part and there were very few dog barking issues. 2-5 animals per household is plenty in today's economy and still be able to provide for their care.
Semi Happy Resident April 22, 2012 at 08:59 PM
In a conversation I had today I was advised that one of the reasons the new facility was built at the size it is was due to animal control wanting to take in the overflow animals from Shelton and other towns. If this is true, it would be more beneficial in the figures of 651 animals to not only know what the actual time frame was outside of the last year or so time frame that is mentioned but to also break down what animals were from Statford and what animals came in from surronding towns. Those animals were to be paid for by those towns and not Stratford residents. I know the STARS volunteers work hard at the shelter but the figures provided are not showing a true picture especially if the overall budget is over $200,000 and no breakdown in the article is provided as to where the rest of the money goes or what comes in from donations or other towns.
George E. Mulligan April 23, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Where's the Shelter for people? Where's the empathy for homeless & people without enough food? Check the Baldwin Center lunch or South End Community Center. I compliment STARS for their effort & compassion. However the Budget has more than enough money IF they'd put a little time & effort into exposing where Town money goes. NO SHORTAGE! PRIORITIES! 4 Mils = Stratford Defined Benefit Pension-Fairfield fully funded zero Mils 4 Mils = Extra cost other Benefits 3-4 Mils = Unfunded Mandates 1 Mil = extra costs of Attorneys, Police, & Fire Budget 1 Mil = Change Orders / Bidding / Contractors 5 Mils = interest lost - mismanagement 3 Mils = Economic Development - There is no way Stratford should have a higher Mil Rate than 18. However single issue groups like Stars, Library, Education, would rather do work that should be paid for and put money out of your pockets rather than ask questions that would solve the problems, which will only get worse. In July 8 more Firemen may retire at over $ 100,000 per year. We have people who are losing their homes and can barely feed themselves. Many seniors homes have or had no mortgage and see Taxes over $ 6000 and have $ 15,000 gross income from Social Security. Winter Heat Electric Water Phone / TV I know of a 90 year old woman who set aside Social Security money to take care of her cats & kittens. Government worked way into her home & persecuted her for 2 years. Some people have no shame.
Snowy April 23, 2012 at 11:40 AM
I would like to say "Thank You" to the Stratford Animal Control officers and the STARS volunteers. They do so much work with all the animals that are at the shelter. Keep up the good work!!!!!!! As a taxpayer in Stratford, I think my taxes are well spent helping out the shelter. Thank you again!
libertarian April 23, 2012 at 05:57 PM
i bet you are unemployed and on welfare and are mad at the world.
libertarian April 23, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I would much rather see tax dollars go to helping animals than to greedy town employees. $400 a year to help save and find a forever home for a pet, or Retire after 20 years and receive a full pension for doing services that could have been outsourced to a private company.
libertarian April 23, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Lets scale back the board of education budget and the town workforce. Our schools are in ruins and somehow the superintendent gets an award for superintendent of the year??? how does that work. Instead of throwing money at problems (like the board of ed), i would rather see the money go to more productive town services, like the animal shelter.
George E. Mulligan April 24, 2012 at 12:07 AM
If STARS spent a little time and energy helping to clean up politics, there would be more money for pets. When $ 50 million is being steered annually, and they steerers can stir up the good people of STARS towards the wrong issues ..... You people are being used. I admire you work and intent. But they laugh at you for diverting attention from Pensions, Health Care, Sweet heart BIDS / CHANGE ORDERS. You people are being used. You are good people who can NOT imagine people NOT DOING GOOD and DECENT THINGS. The term is called "Mirror imaging." You project your values on thoses of others, which they mockingly use. EINSTEIN - NOT Al Gore: If you always do, what you always did, to expect a different result, defines insanity .... STARS will be back NEXT YEAR and EVERY YEAR looking for crumbs, for animals, while the party animals steal the Bakery,
Semi Happy Resident April 24, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Kimberly, I suggest that you reread the above article. Yes, it lists in their chart that they had $1,200 for food for 651 animals but in the article itself they want to take $10,000 away from the dog food line and put it towards the vet care. You cannot take away $10,000 from $1,200 unless the figures are off or misrepresented. In addition, the 651 figure for animals is stated in the article as being housed for the last year or so. As I have asked previoulsy, what is the or so time frame? It could be as little as 1 week or as much as 1 year but the article doesn't state that either. The facility was also built, from my understanding, to take in overflow animals from surrounding towns but the article doesn't list that either. The 651 could include a percentage of surrounding towns which should be reimbursing Stratford for their care. I am not saying to deny the increase but the facts and figures provided in the article contradict themself and a better 'chart' that includes all of their expenses, including salaries should be provided so the taxpayers really know what they are voting on. Especially since they want a $17K increase in an already $200,000 plus budget but only mention amounts that add up to about $16,000. Something is off in this picture and I suggest the voters look into it despite how everyone loves the look of the new building and appreciates all the volunteers.
RMA April 25, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Please note Editors Noted at end of this article that it has been changed for layout purposes. You can visit STARS's website at www.stratfordanimalrescue.com to see the full information presented to the Town Council Members regarding this topic.
Jason Bagley (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 04:28 AM
The note does not mean that content was added or deleted. The only thing that changed was the publication date.
Donna Rae Henault Caporaso April 25, 2012 at 01:28 PM
"Old furniture" doesn't mean its antique. Do you have documentation and photos of these alleged antiques? The photos showed furniture in home but not expensive antiques. Nor did there appear to be room for other furniture from viewing the many photos so where was this mystery $35,000 worth of "antiques" in the house?
Donna Rae Henault Caporaso April 25, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Sad lonely man. Perhaps you should adopt a pet? I did, a wonderful dog who is an absolute love, smart and eager to learn more! She had been severely abused and abandoned to fend for herself in the marshes by some ignorant low life who probably beats his kids too because he thinks he's superior to everyone else when in fact he's loser.
AnnMarie April 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
How about you keep that ignorant comment to yourself. I'm all for "freedom of speech" in case you decide to pull that card out but seriously?? Don't be upset with animals when its people that are breeding them irresponsibly.
Loathe Public Service Unions May 02, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Quoting: Increase part-time salaries from $18,200 to $32,300? This is a joke - right? A 77 percent increase????? I suppose the fact many Stratford cops, firemen & other public service union goons retire at $18,000 more than they made on the job. One retire∂ at 93K & makes 123K now doing nothing but sucking up real estart taxes.
Jezebel282 May 02, 2012 at 11:23 AM
A little perspective here please. While the need for another paid administrative position at EMS is at best questionable, let's remember that the volunteers at EMS really put it out there for us. Each and every one of them has spent their own money and large amounts of time being trained, tested and certified to do one thing. Help us when we need them. It is not fair to pit their efforts and dedication against sheltering animals. Especially when many of them are involved in animal rescue organizations themselves. On the other hand, you could always talk about the Town Attorney's budget of $1.8 MILLION.
k-9 lover June 19, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Well i see the state set fees for adoptions have returned, and the "donations" have disappeared.wonder where those thousands of dollars of overcharged fees have gone? And requiring adopters to go out of town to snowflake for a"fix", whos getting a kickback? I hope past adopters show up to recoupe there "donation". Someone at state level reading this? Sounds criminal to me.

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