Thursday, September 1, 2011


Understandably, the Stark County commissioners (Bernabei and Creighton; Ferguson was absent due to a family death) - may it be said? - "imposed" a dog license increase of $2 (in the face of Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault's request for a $4 increase) which is the minimum the commissioners could have done under Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code Section 955.14).  Moreover, they increased kennel operation fees by $10 per kennel ($60 to $70).

The statute does not use the word "impose" and you can bet that there was no talk about "imposing" a fee at yesterday's commissioners meeting, but that's the net effect of commissioners' action.

As anyone who is familiar with a previous board of commissioners know, in December, 2008, the then commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos "imposed" a sales tax increase of 1/2%.

A group of Stark Countians  became enraged at commissioners "imposing" the tax, organized into a "Vote No Increased Tax Committee" and led an effort to defeat retention of the levy in the November, 2009 and won handily.

Consequently, the commissioners are "gun shy" on the matter of proposing/raising taxes or fees and The Report believes that the increase would have been $4 if the former board of commissioners had not bungled by "imposing" in 2008 rather than allow Stark Countians to vote on the measure from the outset.

Being the dog lovers they are, the SCPR does not believe that Stark Countians owning dogs will be upset with the increase.  If anything, they might even agree with The Report that a $2 increase was not enough.

The Report believes the increase should have been $4 which would have provided the necessary funds to take care of all the capital deficiencies that have accumulated since 2004 (the last increase ) and have gone unmet.

One remedy for Warden Tetreault to pursue is increasing enforcement of the fee.  While about 50,000 dogs, more or less, are registered in Stark County, thousands remain unregistered.   At a work session two weeks ago, Tetreault indicated she would step up efforts to increase the ratio of registration.  Stark County Auditor Alan Harold will be asked to carry the financial burden of advertising the need to register inasmuch as his office get 15% of the revenues generated by Pound fees.

The increase from the current $12 to $14 will generate about $100,000 of additional money.  A $4 increase would have generated about $200,000.  Even a $4 increase would have been very much in line with comparable Ohio counties.

There is about a $60,000 shortfall in getting all the desperately needed repairs/replacements done in 2012 and therefore it appears that the remainder will have to wait until 2013.

The Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board is doing its part to help with capital improvements.  They are looking to fund improvements of the Pound ventilation system with the proceeds from a fund raiser to be held in September.

The SCPR encourages all Stark Countians (dog owner or not) to support the SCDPAB (many of whom volunteer at the Pound) in their effort to help provide for Stark's lost, orphaned, and stray dog population.

Of course, it is not just capital repairs which have gone undone.  Readers who want to familiarize themselves with all of the problems at the Stark County Dog Pound should link up with a prior SCPR blog by clicking anywhere in this paragraph.

At yesterday's meeting, Nanci Miller, president of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) appeared to endorse an increase in dog registration fees.  She did not specify an amount.  Undoubtedly, she is grateful for any increase to provide the financial resources that are needed to get the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound) up to full speed in being a first-rate pound.

Another interesting note is that in the SCPR's interview of Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton after the commissioners meeting had adjourned show that they say they would have liked to do a $4 fee increase but could not do so in light of a number of factors which each expound on in the video provided below.

Commissioner Creighton, in particular, was pointed in scoring prior boards of commissioners for not keeping pace with the financial needs of the Pound operation over the years between 2004 and 2011 (which is, by the way, an enterprise fund in that its operations and capital needs are provided for from revenues generated from the Pound itself and NOT from county general fund dollars).

Here is a video of Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board President Nanci Miller, Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault and Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton speaking to the matter of fee increases.

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