Dardenne Prairie’s Board of Aldermen was forced to “bite the bullet” and approve a contract with St. Charles County to provide animal control services and adopt the county’s animal control ordinance.
The board voted 5-1 to approve the annual contract, which will cost the city $15,500 annually, at their April 6 meeting. Alderman John Gotway [Ward 3] voted against the contract.
Until this year, the county provided animal control services to county municipalities, which often had their own individual animal control ordinances. But the St. Charles County Council approved a plan to charge municipalities for annual animal control service.
After Mayor David Zucker described his “sticker shock” at the bill, the city asked county officials in February for a more detailed explanation of why they would charge the city $15,500.
Zucker said the city may want to enter the agreement for one year, and work with other cities to see if a private contractor could provide animal control services before renewing the agreement.
Zucker said one private contractor, who provides services to other cities in Lincoln County, had suggested in a telephone call that his service had “response times of at least an hour.”
“If you’ve got a stray dog menacing somebody, you can’t wait around for an hour,” he said.
The county stopped responding to animal control calls in the city in March, Zucker added. “I’m concerned if we don’t get this approved somebody is going to get hurt and the responsibility will be on us for not taking action,” he said.
“Basically we have to bite the bullet on this and spend the rest of the year finding out whether it’s feasible to develop alternatives,” Zucker said. “If we can’t, we’ll continue to deal with the county.”
The city is also required to adopt the county’s animal control ordinance, which Zucker said is largely the same as the city’s present ordinance.
The city isn’t expected to receive anything from the county from fines paid by residents. “Cash flow is through a series of deep valves that only go in one direction,” Zucker said. “There is no back flow.”
Other cities are contracting with the county for various services such as kenneling animals, but handling their own animal pickups. Dardenne Prairie and Lake Saint Louis have entered into agreements to allow the county to take over their animal control services. Lake Saint Louis is being charged $19,629 annually.