Eastpointe signs new animal control agreement

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 8, 2014

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EASTPOINTE — City Council voted unanimously Dec. 17 to join a proposed intergovernmental animal control agreement between itself, Roseville, Warren, St. Clair Shores and Sterling Heights.

Dubbed the Macomb Animal Control Coalition, the goal of the agreement is to try to keep animal control costs down in light of Macomb County raising its own fees, according to Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane. At press time, Eastpointe appeared to be the first to join.

“The different agencies that are in the animal control business, the local units, are looking at economizing operations, and the county had indicated an increase in (animal control) fees,” Duchane said. “Plus, they had made some decisions on policy that were different from what local communities wanted, so we decided to join together.”

Duchane said the agreement, which will go into effect when at least two of the involved communities sign off on it, would allow the communities to collectively go out for bids for private animal control service, such as that through an animal hospital or veterinarian.

Duchane believes that the group will be able to get bids roughly in line with what each community currently pays for Macomb County’s animal control service. It is also possible that they could receive a bid lower than what each community currently pays, Duchane added.

In terms of the county fees, the 10-day quarantine fee went from $153 to $225, the 5-day stray hold fee went from $65 to $100, the animal boarding fee jumped from $13 to $20, and the injured wildlife euthanizing fee went from $5 to $10.

The proposed intergovernmental group also would count toward the state’s Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP), he said, which will help each community involved get a little bit of state-shared revenue from Lansing.

According to the agreement language, each of the involved cities had contracted with Macomb County for animal-related services that it could not provide on its own, but the county’s budget cuts, personnel reductions and price increases have made it less cost-effective for the cities to continue working with it.

The agreement also said that there are private facilities geographically more economical — in terms of vehicular wear, gas usage and time — to utilize rather than the county’s shelter. It also said the cities hope to relieve the strain on county resources by going private.

Eastpointe Deputy Police Chief Scott Bourgeois said, at this point, all the details of the proposal are preliminary, so from the technical side of things, his department does not yet know how it will differ in practice.

“I have no other information,” Bourgeois said. “It’s just a macro group of the cities coming together in a coalition.”

Currently, Bourgeois said the city has an animal control officer who handles loose animals in the city. Since the city does not have any of its own holding facilities, he said that if she is unable to find an animal’s owner, she takes them to the Macomb County animal shelter in Mount Clemens.

“The city pays the county to use their facilities,” Bourgeois said.

Under the agreement, each community’s executive officer will designate a representative to go to informal meetings between the coalition members. Every member also is responsible for its individual costs and must approve any negotiated agreements the coalition makes, as it does not have any legal power on its own.

Any municipality can leave the coalition at any time, as long as it provides legislative notice through its police chief.

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