Chesterton Tribune



Town Council wants meeting with Porter County Animal Control on contract

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For a dozen years at least, the Chesterton Town Council has grudgingly entered into an annual contract with Porter County Animal Control.

Grudgingly, because to council members’ way of thinking residents already pay for Animal Control services through their property taxes, which would appear to mean that any additional annual fee is a form of double-billing.

Now, with a proposed three-year contract with Animal Control on the table, at $27,347 per year and with a start date retroactive to August, members are wondering once again, as Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, put it at Monday’s meeting, “Why do we have to pay more because we live in a municipality?”

Every year, DeLaney said, “the Commissioners just write a check to Animal Control for the unincorporated but municipalities have to pay based on the number of calls from the previous year. Both municipalities and unincorporated pay taxes. I don’t see a fair and equitable charge for this contract.”

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, concurred but noted that there is some urgency in making a final decision about the contract. “Sooner or later we’ll have to do one of two things, one way or another,” he said. “I’m disconcerted too but they have the only show in town. We’d have to come up with our own animal control plan. I think our backs are up against the wall.”

In the end, members agreed to delegate DeLaney to seek a meeting with Animal Control and a Commissioner, with a view to obtaining further information. First, although Animal Control calculates the fee it charges a municipality based on the number of calls it received from residents in the previous year, Animal Control provides no actual breakdown of the nature of those calls. Some of them, DeLaney acknowledged, are requests for Animal Control service but some may also be queries about hours of operation at the Animal Shelter, pet adoption, or volunteer opportunities.

Second, while Animal Control has provided the council with an accounting of its costs, it hasn’t provided one of its revenue streams: from adoption fees, for instance, or vaccinations.

Meanwhile, the council tasked Town Manager Bernie Doyle to confer with other municipalities, to see whether they also have the same issues with Animal Control. “I don’t know if any other municipalities feel the same way we do,” Ton said. “Do any other towns have the same hesitation? Let’s have the Town Manager make a few phone calls.”

Ton raised one other issue about the contract: it contains no termination language. Before he’d be willing to sign anything, Ton said, the contract would need to be amended to include a clause allowing an opt-out after suitable prior notification is given.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann told the council that he’ll start working both on a termination clause and on arranging a meeting with county officials. “We’ll get right on that,” he said.


Posted 11/28/2018




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