Humane Society, Washtenaw County negotiating animal control agreement
Though the current contract between the Humane Society of Huron Valley and Washtenaw County for animal control services has expired, both parties expect an agreement to be reached by mid-January.
Tanya Hilgendorf, president and CEO of the Humane Society of Huron Valley, estimated that a signed agreement would likely come within the next 10 days. There have been no service interruptions, though the county's current contract expired Dec. 31.
File photo by Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
The county has a contract with the Humane Society to house stray dogs and dogs involved in cruelty investigations, as required by the Michigan Dog Law of 1919, as well as the housing and care of stray cats — which is not required by law.
In an effort to review the county’s investment in its contract with the HSHV, two special county task forces were created last year.
After months of review, in November the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners authorized Administrator McDaniel to negotiate and execute a contract with the Humane Society without making a formal recommendation as to the level of service the county wanted to provide. The contract will not have to come before the board for final approval.
McDaniel has since been in talks with the Humane Society, and has negotiated a four-year, $550,000 contract that will provide the same level of service as the previous contract.
The county will be responsible for paying $460,000 of the contract out of its general fund, and the remaining $90,000 will come from contracts for animal control services that the county expects to negotiate with a number of municipalities .
Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township and Superior Township all have their own ordinances regarding stray dogs. McDaniel said she has verbal agreements with the leadership of each of them, and believes that they will all contract with the county for animal control services.
Currently, the county pays for the Humane Society to collect loose or stray dogs from those municipalities and to house the dogs during cruelty investigations. However, those municipalities do not financially assist the county with its contract.
McDaniel also plans to approach the city of Saline for a service agreement, she said.
The final amount of how much each of the municipalities will be asked to contribute has yet to be determined, although Pittsfield Township already passed an ordinance in which the Board of Trustees agreed Oct. 25 to pay $18,000 for the county to provide it with animal control services in 2013.
However, should any municipality decline to pay for the service, the county will not be required to pay the Humane Society more than $500,000, McDaniel said. $500,000 is the maximum amount of county dollars the Board of Commissioners authorized McDaniel to negotiate a contract for.
The county's negotiations with the Humane Society this year are less contentious than those of a year ago.
Commissioners acted in the fall of 2011 to cut funding to the Humane Society from $500,000 to $265,000 — a margin that did not meet a positive reaction from the Humane Society.
The county was able to strike up a bargain agreement of $415,000 for services in 2012, but the Humane Society made it clear to county leaders that it could not maintain a contract at that level.
The Humane Society is a non-profit organization and is in part funded by donations and utilizes volunteer hours for some of its services.
The value of the services that the Humane Society provides to the county is “above and beyond” the amount that the county pays for, McDaniel said.