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Animal Control Options Considered
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Riverbank City Council members will look into shifting the city's animal control services contract from Stanislaus County to the City of Oakdale following a new proposal by the county which will at least triple the city's costs.

Council members delayed reaching a consensus at Monday's study session, however, to have more talks with Escalon, which expressed further interest in such a contract late last week.

City Manager Rich Holmer said he will make a final recommendation on Dec. 8 and the council will need to meet on Dec. 22 to ensure there is a contract in place by the beginning of 2009.

Presenting three options Monday, City Manager Rich Holmer said the first option, continuing the current contract with the county will push the cost from about $50,000 to more than $200,000 a year including the revenue the county realizes through collecting license fees and fines for offenses like stray dogs, leash violation and failure to vaccinate.

Option two for the city to continue using the county's shelter but do its own field service and canvassing will cost the city $193,000 plus another one-time $47,000 for purchase of a truck and equipment.

Option three (Holmer's original recommendation), for a contract with Oakdale, will cost $147,000 for use of its shelter and field services plus a one-time cost of $47,000 for a truck and $10,000 for revamping the Riverbank shelter for a year's use until the Oakdale shelter can accommodate Riverbank's animals. Prisoners from the county's Alternative Work Program (AWP) already have cleaned and repainted the shelter.

"For years we had our own dogcatcher," Councilmember Dave White commented. "That was good because he rotated to different hours, when people let their dogs out to run."

In outlining the county's offer, Holmer referred to its proposed costs as excessive and said other cities are changing their contracts, Newman, for example going with Gustine.

The city could get further inexpensive help from AWP prisoners in keeping the Riverbank shelter clean and even assistance with intake and care of animals, Police Chief Bill Pooley noted.

Any of the proposed scenarios will cost the city an additional $150,000 in the first year, Holmer noted. But after the first year a contract with Oakdale will reduce annual costs to $150,000 and the city will retain all revenues generated through animal licensing and fines for a first year estimate of $30,000.

The net cost to the city of a contract with Oakdale will be about $120,000 while continuing the contract with Stanislaus County will cost $200,000 plus a debt service contribution of $33,000 a year to help pay for its new facility.

Holmer also noted the city did not know it would be asked to participate in the county's facility construction and has set aside no money for that purpose. The county wants to charge $83,000 per year for field staff costs, which totaled 980 hours last year; and the county proposes to charge almost $9,889 for canvassing, which worked out to $103 per hour during the last budget year.

City officials have looked at the shelter in Escalon that appeared small and without much area for expansion. They also visited Ripon, which they had heard had a state of the art facility. It did have a crematorium but otherwise did not appear special in its services or facilities, officials noted.

Looking toward a contract with Oakdale, staff investigated Riverbank's old shelter and hired jail work program inmates to clean and paint the shelter while city staff is obtaining costs on water and sewer hook-ups. The idea is to staff the shelter for 16 hours a week. Electricity would cost about $2,000. Staff would hope to use Petco's for pet adoption to place eligible animals from the shelter.