It initially appeared – twice – that Vandalia aldermen were not even going to vote on an intergovernmental agreement for animal control.
But, they did vote, and the agreement was approved in a 5-3 vote, and only after aldermen learned that changes to the animal control program could be discussed.
After Mayor Rick Gottman asked for a motion on the contract, there was a eight-second delay. He then asked a second time for a motion.
After another period of silence, Alderman Ken Hubler made the motion, saying, “We need a dog shelter.”
Gottman asked for a second to the motion, and, again, there was silence until Alderman Bret Brosman offered the second.
Before he voted, Alderman Andy Lester said, “I think there’s a lot of holes in it, so I suppose, it needs to be approved, so we could maybe do some patching later on, is that possible to change this as we go along?”
Merrell Collins, chairman of the Fayette County Board animal control subcommittee that drafted the ordinance, told Lester that changes could be made.
“That’s the problem,” Collins said. “Until we get something going, we don’t have the opportunity to change something, and the county and the municipalities are without anything getting dealt with, nothing getting done, and for me that’s just unacceptable. “We want to get this program started – the changes that need to be made," Collins said, he personally wants to do whatever possible to make the program better.
One of Lester’s concerns is that the agreement calls for law enforcement personnel to assist the warden.
Collins said that officers would only be called to assist with vicious animal cases, and estimated that probably 90 percent of the cases could be handled without officer assistance.
He also pointed out that in some municipalities, an officer is going to be the first to respond to an animal problem, and that in the past, with the animal control not being a law enforcement officer, tickets written for violations were thrown out in court.
Collins said having the warden qualified to carry and use a firearm adds cost to the program, and that the county is of the opinion that an officer would assist with threatening canines.
The county is purchasing special equipment to handle difficult canines, and that officer assistance “needs to be a backup.”
Collins told Lester that that the law enforcement issue that could be discussed for possible alterations to the contract.
The only other question came from Brosman, who asked where the shelter is going to be.
Collins said 20-foot-by-50-foot addition to the sheriff’s storage building across from the county highway department on Ill. Route 185 northwest of Vandalia will be constructed.
Lester and Brosman voted for the agreement, as did Hubler, Steve Barker and Mike Hobler.
Voting against the contract were Joel Rebbe, Dorothy Crawford and Russ Stunkel.
Crawford said, “I’m not in the habit of voting on things that we can see what we can do with it, and we need a dog catcher, not a citizenry catching the dogs, so, no.”
Crawford’s comment was in response to a statement made earlier by Collins.
“We don’t have the ability to respond to a call and the dog running through the neighborhood if it’s seen at a certain location all the time,” Collins said.
“And we can catch the animal – that’s not a problem. But we can’t go hunting for animals. We just need a little bit more help than that,” he said.
Under the agreement, governmental entities agree to contribute to the costs of establishing and operating the animal control program.
The county needs to have the agreement also approved by other municipalities in the county in order to provide coverage of those towns.
The estimated fees for the construction of a shelter, acquisition of a vehicle and equipping the shelter total $28,500. The vehicle fee does not actually include acquisition, as the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is providing an SUV used by that department in the past.
The annual contribution breakdown for the governmental entities is: Fayette County, $16,331; Vandalia, $8,326; St. Elmo, $961; Brownstown, $640; Farina, $801; Ramsey, $801; and St. Peter, $640.
The annual operating costs are estimated to total $86,230 and revenues set at $89,000, with the annual contributions being: Fayette County, $51,000; Vandalia, $26,000; St. Elmo, $3,000; Brownstown, $2,000; Farina, $2,500; Ramsey, $2,500; and St. Peter, $2,500.
With July 1 set as the projected startup date for the program, the pro-rated amounts for 2020 are: Fayette County, $25,500; Vandalia, $13,000; St. Elmo, $1,500; Brownstown, $1,000; Farina, $1,250; Ramsey, $1,250; and St. Peter, $1,000.
The contributions for the initial capital outlay and pro-rated annual contributions are:
• 2020 – Fayette County, $41,831; Vandalia, $21, 326; Brownstown, $2,461; Brownstown, $1,640; Farina, $2,051; Ramsey, $2,051; and St. Peter, $1,640.
• 2021 and 2022 – Fayette County, $51,000; Vandalia, $26,000; St. Elmo, $3,000; Brownstown, $2,000; Farina, $2,500; Ramsey, $2,500; and St. Peter, $2,000.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council observed a moment of silence for local business owner Larry Mabry.
• Approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 306 from Fred Bauerle of Ramsey to Callie Williams of Greenville and the transfer of No. 1 from Darrell Pryor of Vandalia to Alyssa Tompkins of Shobonier.
• The council approved the use of motor fuel tax funds for engineering services on the Payne Drive and Wagner Street improvement project that is related to the Octochem expansion project.