Culver City Observer
August 30, 2007
By Martha Tucker
Council Votes To Give County Control
When it comes to dogs and cats in Culver City, they have friends, advocates and business people in high places in their corner. The agenda item A-1 at the City Council meeting Monday night filled the chamber and caused uproar.
The item up for review and discussion was the Culver City Animal Licensing program, Animal Control Program, approval of an agreement with the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control and approval of an Agreement, for animal Licensing Software with progressive solutions. Staff recommended that the city council review the city's animal licensing program, discuss canvassing, approve an agreement with the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Control for shelter and other services, and approve software maintenance agreement with Progressive Solutions for a period of July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2012 or five years. The main disagreement was over the contract being one year or five.
It all got started on February 26, 2007, when the City Council appropriated $20,000 for the purchase of Animal Licensing Software from Progressive Solutions to accommodate the city's new In-House Animal Licensing Program on a trial basis. At that time, the City Council also adopted a resolution authorizing an animal licensing amnesty program for a period of April 1, 2007 to June 29, 2007. The purpose of bringing the animal licensing program in-house was two fold: 1) to help resolve customer service issues experienced by Culver City residents under the previous County Administered Licensing Program, and 2) to determine the revenue stream potential of an in-house licensing, program. After the Amnesty program, the City Council directed staff to return to the council with the results of the operations.
The in-house subcommittee consists of Mayor Alan Corlin and Council member Gary Silbiger, who have worked with staff and the Friends of Culver City Animals to prepare certain recommendations of the City Council. Subcommittee's recommendations are as follows: Consider if the city should continue to perform licensing duties in-house, recommend licensing in-house at a cost of $36,000 for a regular part-time position at administrative clerk level, and continue the in-house licensing program. And the subcommittee wasn't the only one with that recommendation.
Two veterinarians showed up at the dais to offer welfare to our dogs and cats. "We want to contribute," one said. We can help bring our animals to a local Culver City hospital to be reunited to their owners."
While Mayor Corlin thought the idea worthy of being discussed by getting together the hospitals and the council and see if it could work out. A friend of Culver City Animals came forward to voice her dissatisfaction to a renewal contract with Los Angles County for five years. We have always had the contract on a year-to-year basis. “Why, when we want to care for our own animals would we extend it? That was not mentioned at the Subcommittee meeting."
Another friend of the Culver City Animals also wanted a shorter contract with the county. He gave his reason as that Carson Center Shelter, the service area, has a 3 to 1 killer ratio. They defy the law by putting animals down on the site and Fox News did a story on the conditions, it was claimed.
Deborah Weinrauch of Culver City Animals said her organization has about 2,000 members and is growing weekly. “We oppose the renewing of the contract for five years. We need to give work to the in-house license program. If Culver City enters a five-year contract with Los Angeles County, we will refrain from all activity, unless it is a one-year contract," she said.
Councilman Silbiger said, "If in-house goes well, we see this as a first step in other programs. I'll make a motion for one-year renewal and a 30-day ability to withdraw. If we have five years, the new council will have its hands tied. A five-year program does not work."
A discussion of monies to run the program never got clarified. It just drifted from $138,000 to the worker getting $38,000, a discussion of canvassing the city looking for lost dogs.
After a banal discussion of convenience of location and distance at the Carson location, Vice-Mayor Carol Gross said, "Distance isn't a persuasive argument. I am careful to look after my dog. And in 30 years he was lost only once. Officers can't do canvassing if they are there to do other things. I would go with staff's recommendation. Do the contract renewal and when we're ready, we can change."
Councilman Scott Malsin commented that, "It’s a dollar and cents issue. The figures we got back from licensing are encouraging, but we're not there yet."
Councilman Steve Rose said, "The issue is an emotional one, but we need logic." He broke out with figures that dissuaded the use of in-house animal control. "I disagree with councilman Silbiger about having no more than a one-year contract. Multiple-year contracts lock in better prices." He said he would not support a one-year, but a five-year contract.
Mayor Corlin said he would support the one-year contract. We have to look at the true cost, and I don't know where it breaks even. I'd like to see true cost, but I don't see us weaning ourselves from the county anytime soon."
Councilman Silbiger said, 'We have to have priorities in any increase. Like we increased the cost of graffiti care." He made the motion.
Vice-Mayor Gross seconded the Silbiger motion, except for the one-year stipulation. It passed 3-2. Malsin, Vice Mayor Gross and Councilman Rose gave victory for the five-year contract.
Everyone seemed willing to live with the blow to animal activists, except Friends of Culver City Animals.