Local News

Wednesday, Nov 21 2012 05:26 PM

Committee sets December goal for joint animal control agreement

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

The joint city-county animal control committee set an ambitious schedule Wednesday to come up with a draft agreement on how Bakersfield and Kern County will share the costs of sheltering unwanted animals in metropolitan Bakersfield in the long term.

Right now, Bakersfield and Kern County have a temporary agreement for the county to take in stray animals picked up in the city and to operate the animal shelter on Mount Vernon Avenue that sits on city land. They've operated this way for more than nine years, through successive agreements, but that arrangement almost fell apart last summer when the county demanded the city pay more to cover its share of animals brought in from city property.

The Metro Bakersfield Animal Control Committee was formed in August to help end conflict and come up with a long-term agreement.

The committee set a deadline of Dec. 19 to come up with a draft agreement.

Wednesday's meeting took place despite the fact Bakersfield staff recommended it be cancelled. Bakersfield Councilmen David Couch and Ken Weir, two of the city representatives on the committee, couldn't attend because of "an unforseen scheduling conflict," and city staff also couldn't attend, according to a notice from the city manager's office.

But with Kern County Supervisors Zack Scrivner and Mike Maggard and committee chair Michael Yraceburn there, the needed quorum was reached, so the meeting went ahead.

The meeting time and date had already been publicized when it was learned city representatives couldn't come, Maggard said.

"We want to facilitate public participation every time," he added as to why the meeting went ahead.

Committee members said they planned to tell city staff about the Dec. 19 goal for a draft agreement. The current, temporary agreement expires June 30, 2013.

At a recent meeting, city and county representatives agreed on the methods for determining cost-sharing, said Sandra Quigley, deputy county administrative officer.

Bakersfield representatives said their main concern was indirect costs, Quigley said, such as who should pay for county staff whose time is split between the joint shelter and county-specific work. To that end, the county is studying how much time certain county employees spend on shelter-related work.

Scrivner said he hoped for a city-county agreement in which the two bodies would share responsibility for the shelter and not one "where the city is (just) cutting us a check."

Maggard said he wants "for us to permanently have a joint operation ... (that's not) prone to unravel."

Animals picked up on city property made up 41 percent of the total in October, Jen Woodard, the new director of Kern County Animal Control, told the committee.

Woodard said adoptions and animal rescues increased in October compared to October 2011. Adoptions rose from 230 to 380, and rescues of unwanted animals jumped from 220 to 379.

Euthanizations fell, from 72 percent of animals in October 2011 to 63 percent in October 2012.

The joint committee's next meeting will be Dec. 5.

Have something to share? Comment on this story