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County animal control bills going up

Dardenne Prairie officials are questioning a new St. Charles County policy that could cost the city more than $15,000 annually.

“It seems a sizable chunk of change,” said Mayor David Zucker, after hearing a report on the new contract from Jeff Amelong, the city’s code enforcement officer, who noted that the county’s proposed charges come at a bad time, after cities have adopted annual budgets.

Zucker said county officials may have looked at what the county is spending and said “they [municipalities] need to buck up and pay their fair share.”

“Apparently the taxes we pay are not enough so they are looking to assess a user fee,” Zucker added.

The city may examine alternatives to using county services, and some aldermen asked if the services had to be provided at all. Zucker said there is no harm in asking for a further explanation from the county or checking to see if the city can work with neighboring O’Fallon. He said if the county is truly the only game in town, “we [may] have to grit our teeth and write the check.” Some aldermen also conceded that the city does not have the money to perform its own animal control.

Alderman Kevin Klingerman [Ward 1] asked for a legal opinion on whether the county has the authority to not provide the service to the city if the city does not approve the agreement.

The board took no formal action at its Feb. 17 meeting on the agreement with the county.

Lake Saint Louis City Administrator Paul Markworth said that city approved a contract – totaling $19,629 annually – with the county in January. He noted that, while there are arguments on both sides of the question, the result is that cities will have to spend more money. Additional costs, in recent years, include payments related to the county’s 911 emergency telephone system and emergency dispatching.

“It all ends up that we’re spending another $65,000,” Markworth said. “We’re writing a check to the county we didn’t write a year ago.”

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