A brief discussion about animal control during Monday’s city council meeting indicated that city and county officials will be discussing the issue further.
The issue could not be acted on at the meeting, Mayor Rick Gottman pointed out, but he did say that he is not pleased with the intergovernmental agreement presented by the county.
Gottman said during the meeting, held telephonically, that he does not like the idea of the city using funds for a building that it doesn’t own.
The agreement approved by the county board last month estimated the cost for an animal control shelter, vehicle and some equipment at $45,500, with the county contributing $26,073 from its capital improvement fund.
The balance is to come from municipalities in the county, with Vandalia’s share set at $13,292.
The contributions for all entities is based on population.
Bruce DeLashmit of Bellwether, the county’s administrative consultant, participated in the meeting, told the mayor that the $40,000 estimate for a building, equipment and vehicle was derived prior to the county getting bids for a building, with an estimate of $25,000 for a building.
At that point, the city’s share of the $40,000 figure was $13,128.
Since then, DeLashmit said, the county received an estimate of $18,000 for an equipment 24-foot-by-24-foot building.
And, he believes that instead of a freestanding building, the county may construct an addition to the sheriff’s office’s storage building northwest of Vandalia on Ill. Route 185.
Also, he said, the county has decided to use an SUV formerly used by the sheriff’s office as a K-9 vehicle for animal control, thus eliminating that cost.
DeLashmit said that the intergovernment agreement includes an initial outlay (from towns) for outfitting requirements or equipment to establish a shelter.
“We are at a standstill because the intergovernmental agreement is at a standstill,” he said.
DeLashmit said that he has made himself available twice over the past week to answer questions. “I welcome the ability to answer those questions,” he said.
“We are trying to find a solution. That solution involves you. I welcome any discussions,” DeLashmit said.
“Our goal has been to do this in the most cost-effective manner as possible,” he said.
“The initial outlay, we will repurpose these numbers when we know the total (cost),” he said. “This is a not-to-exceed for the initial outlay.”
Gottman said he is not happy with approving an agreement with a not-to-exceed amount, that a specific amount should be provided.
DeLashmit said that the county can move forward on hiring an animal control administrator/warden when intergovernmental agreements are signed.
“I cannot hire this person without Vandalia’s participation.
“We are on standby,” he said. “We would have hoped for a decision tonight, so that we’d be able to engage the warden immediately.”
Gottman asked whether the animal control person would be picking up stray cats, saying it’s a concern in Vandalia and something that he’s heard about from other mayors in the county.
DeLashmit said, “We don’t have ability to do that in the first year. The first year has been focused on the primary public concern (dogs).
“When we looked at how to integrate with the state program, that’s a goal for the next year,” DeLashmit said.
“If Vandalia wants to include cats, I can tell you that the expense will go higher, because we have to a humane containment for cats,” he said.
“I am at your disposal to try and progress this,” DeLashmit said.
DeLashmit and Connor will be talking in the near future on the issue.