Funding request revisitedCity council votes to increase the amount of funding granted to PAWS and More
As the Washington City Council revisited the funding to a local animal shelter, the discussion of funding to three other entities came up.
In the end, the council agreed to increase PAWS and More’s funding for the coming year to $12,500, up from $10,000, which the board had agreed on during a recent work session. PAWS director Amber Talbot said that because the city isn’t following a set formula for the animals, the city isn’t paying for all the animals that PAWS is taking in on behalf of the city.
Councilman Merle Hagie read a prepared statement detailing that he felt granting the increases in yearly funding to the Washington Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Washington and the Washington Economic Development Group, but not to PAWS was unfair. He said that he would not vote in favor of the city’s budget like this.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for a budget that awards contributions to WEDG, tourism and Main Street the exact dollars requested and then awards PAWS and More less than last year,” Hagie said.
He said that last year the basic contribution to PAWS was $10,520, and the $10,000 this year would reduce the funding. Councilman Bob Shepherd, who had made the motion to fund PAWS for $10,000 plus a $2,500 contribution for a spay and neuter program, attended the meeting by phone. He said that he had made a mistake and thought he was granting PAWS the same amount he did last year.
After the board approved reconsidering the contribution, councilman Bob Shellmyer, who cast the sole “nay” vote on the contributions, asked to reexamine all the contributions. While the agenda item read the discussion was to be about PAWS and More, city attorney Craig Arbuckle said that because all the contributions were voted on with one vote, they could all be reconsidered.
The council left the other funding proposals the same.
Councilman Mark Kendall asked Talbot if funding for $12,500 without the program stipulation would work. Talbot said because the city wasn’t operating from a formula the shelter provides, PAWS is having to absorb the cost of housing some of the animals for the city.
During discussion, Mayor Sandra Johnson confirmed there had not been a formal agreement between the city and PAWS. She said the agreement had begun many years ago as an alternative from paying a local veterinarian to house animals for the city.
The council approved increasing the donation to $12,500. Shepherd said that he would continue discussing the funding.
Talbot said that the shelter is continuing to work on the noise problem. Earlier in the meeting, two citizens reported that the barking from PAWS and More is still too loud.
In other business, the council:
• approved a plan to allow Washington County Hospital to close the inner traffic lanes around the square after 9 p.m. May 23 to set up for KidzFest on May 24;
• approved a site plan for 1575 West Fifth Street;
• approved changing the zoning at 981 West Fifth Street to R2;
• approved a certificate of substantial completion for the West Side Sanitary Sewer Interceptor;
• approved the purchase of a 2010 Elgin Pelican street sweeper for $124,500;
• set public hearings on the Washington budget and the streets/airport levy for 6 p.m. March 6; and
• approved a resolution for a Safe Routes to School grant submission.