City & County look to operate joint animal control program


Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

An interlocal agreement long in the works between the staffs of the City of Monticello and Jefferson County relative to the two governmental entities’ animal control programs finally got to the Jefferson County Commission for a first review recently. County Attorney Buck Bird presented the commission with a draft of the interlocal agreement on Tuesday morning, July 7, explaining that the document was a defacto formalization of an arrangement long in practice. Per the terms of the proposed contract, as fashioned by City Attorney Bruce Leinback and Bird, the city and county would grant each other’s state-certified animal control officers the authority to enforce the animal control rules within their respective jurisdictions. The county, moreover, agrees to provide the administrative support for the joint animal control program, which support is to include providing the appropriate forms, logs and citations; processing new case files; billing and collecting citation fees and fines; housing the animals; and providing food, care, veterinarian services, drugs and miscellaneous supplies for the animals. The city, for its part, would pay the county $1,787.75 quarterly for the administrative and other stipulated services. In turn, the county would pay the city’s animal control officer for those hours the latter works on capturing or responding to animal complaints in the county. Per the terms of the agreement, the contract would renew automatically each year unless one or the other party decided to terminate or adjust it. Each entity would be responsible for all personal injury or property damage that is attributable to the negligence or omission of their respective animal control officers and other employees. As explained by Monticello City Manager Steve Wingate and Jefferson County Solid Waste Director and Animal Control Officer Beth Letchworth, the contract would formalize an arrangement that has long existed between the two operations. The two cited examples of instances where their respective departments have cooperated and assisted each other on animal complaints both within the city and the county. The agreement would not only formalize the arrangement, but it would allow for better cooperation and coordination between the two departments, Letchworth and Wingate said. It would also allow for rotation of the personnel, who now have to be on call 24-7, they said. “Where we now have one man, we’ll be able to rotate the duty,” Wingate said. “The city will also be able to write citations, which we can’s do now.” The commission approved the agreement, which now must go to the City Council for its review and approval.