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Animal Control Board pushing for collection fee

By Greg Gelpi

The county commission flip-flopped as the Clayton County Animal Control Board tried to push a proposal through the commission.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners held a work session Tuesday. A proposal to charge a $25 fee to people who drop off animals to the animal shelter was dropped from the agenda, but then quickly picked back up by the commissioners.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Crandle Bray dismissed the item on the agenda, saying that no one on the commission supported it and it would not be on the agenda for the regular business meeting next week.

When members of the Clayton County Animal Control Board addressed the commissioners, though, Bray said he supported the item and that it would be considered by the commissioners.

Members of the Animal Control Board said they are making proposals to bring in money, rather than only spending tax money, but that as happens with most of their suggestions the commissioners failed to even listen.

"We want to know why this animal intake fee would not help the animal control center," Rick Page of the Animal Control Board said.

If there was a $25 collection fee for animals turned into the Animal Control Board, the board would have made an estimated $125,720 in 2001, $93,075 in 2002 and $91,950 in 2003, according to Page. That money could fund programs, such as an aggressive spay and neuter program, which could reduce the number of stray animals.

"I still think it's a great idea," Bray said. "Show me the other side of it."

Bray, though, said that by adding a $25 fee, the Animal Control Board may actually keep people from turning in animals. They would do it when it's free, but not when it costs money.

He asked Page and Robin Rawls, also of the Animal Control Board, to present historic data and information from other counties that have enacted similar ordinances.

The cost of chasing loose animals may be more than the money taken in by any fees, Bray said.

"We have attempted several ways to get revenue," Rawls said. "This is something we've worked on since October, and they didn't want to discuss it. The problem we run into is every time we bring something to the commission we're told there's no money."

In other business, commissioners also heard a request to impose restrictions on massage therapy parlors. A proposed ordinance would restrict massage therapy businesses to the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and would require a licensed massage therapist to be on staff during operating hours and all employees and people on the premises to be supervised.

The commission will hold its next board meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.