Animal control contract put on hold in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 7, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — After receiving a proposed contract that increases the cost of service by nearly $40,000, St. Clair Shores City Council voted to table the matter to discuss other possibilities for animal control and to get more information about the service being provided by Macomb County.

St. Clair Shores Police Chief Jason Allen told City Council members that the county has been providing animal control services to St. Clair Shores since 2014 and has not had a price increase in that time. According to documents provided to City Council, the city paid $90,000 for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 and has paid $88,000 annually since then. The proposed contract for fiscal year 2021-22 is $127,820, which Allen said more accurately reflects the cost of the services being provided.

“They patrol the city for loose animals, roadkill, stop by the station any day, any issues we have on the road with neglect of animals, cruelty toward animals, we assist in the investigation,” he explained. “They take strays until the owners can be found or (the animals can be) adopted out.”

The county also handles animal licensing for the city.

Although the increase is significant, City Manager Matthew Coppler said the Police Department’s budget already included the increased amount because negotiations on the contract had already begun at budget time.

“The county actually wanted to double what we were paying. We did actually push back on that. They were going to start charging us for the kenneling of the dogs. We said, ‘Wait a minute, you don’t charge anybody else,’” he explained.

He said at the Sept. 7 meeting of City Council that he had been told by Macomb County Animal Control that they were going to start discussing charging the townships kenneling fees.

“They’re looking at the cost of the kenneling and splitting it up among the communities,” he explained.

Councilman John Caron said, however, that he believed the services St. Clair Shores is receiving from Macomb County Animal Control, “that they’re asking us to pay for, are things other municipalities get from the county through the taxes they’re paying for.”

“We wanted a specific officer, 40 days a week in the city. That’s why we had to get a contract,” he said.

“If other communities getting these services are not paying, I don’t want to be the first one to pay,” said Councilwoman Candice Rusie.

She said she was also unclear as to how the county handles wildlife problems for the city because she had been told they did not.

“I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with that, especially if we’re going to be paying a lot more for these services,” she said.

The provided documents also spelled out how many services had been provided each year to the city.

“It looks like, for the last four years, everything has gone down, in terms of service,” Councilman Ron Frederick said. “Less licenses sold ... calls for service are down. ... It just amazes me that (they’re) doing half the work, but they want double the price. If anyone else came to us with a contract like that, we’d tell them (to) go away.”

He suggested the city look at how much it would cost to bring the service back in-house again before approving a contract.

City Council voted to table the decision on the contract Sept. 7. At the Sept. 20 meeting, Coppler said the city would be meeting with the county to discuss the contract and hoped to bring an amended contract back to council soon, as well as another proposal for the services that could be reviewed at the same time.