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City to contract with county animal control

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 at its April 6 meeting to approve the contract, which will cost the city $15,500 annually. Only Alderman John Gotway [Ward 3] was opposed.

Until this year, the county provided animal control services to county municipalities, which often had their own individual animal control ordinances. However, earlier this year, the County Council approved a plan to charge municipalities for annual animal control services. 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 suggested at that time that the city might 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. Since then, 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,” Zucker said.

The county stopped responding to animal control calls in Dardenne Prairie in March, Zucker said.

“I’m concerned that 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. If we can’t, we’ll continue to deal with the county.”

The city also is 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 in terms of 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.”

Lake Saint Louis also has entered into an agreement to allow the county to take over its animal control services. Lake Saint Louis is being charged $19,629 annually.

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