County Board Updated on Humane Society

At their Dec. 7, 2011 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners were briefed on negotiations between the county and the Humane Society of Huron Valley, over a new contract for animal control services. It was not an item on the agenda, but commissioner Ronnie Peterson requested an update during the meeting.

Board chair Conan Smith reported that HSHV board chair Mike Walsh had been sent a draft RFP, including a “scope of work” for animal control services that the county believes are mandated by the state. [.pdf of draft RFP] Representatives from the county and HSHV are planning to meet soon to continue negotiations, Smith said. HSHV’s current contract, for $500,000 annually, ends on Dec. 31. The county has budgeted a total of $430,000 annually for 2012 and 2013, which HSHV has indicated is insufficient for the work required by the county. [See Chronicle coverage: "Animal Control Mandate Unresolved" and "Washtenaw County Budget Set for 2012-2013"]

When pressed by Peterson about what might happen after Jan. 1 if a new agreement isn’t reached, Smith said that the county has budgeted roughly $25,000 a month for animal control services, and that county administrator Verna McDaniel has investigated other options for service providers, finding at least two. For contracts under $25,000, the county administrator has the discretion to authorize those agreements. Such a contract would be temporary, Smith said, while negotiations with HSHV continue.

Some commissioners wanted to ensure that a new long-term contract with HSHV – or perhaps another provider – would be brought to the board for approval. They noted that the funding for animal control services was part of the sheriff’s budget now, and that the sheriff had authority to enter into such contracts. After further discussion, Smith proposed a resolution amending the 2012 budget line item for animal control services, stating “No contract for animal control services that extends beyond 60 days shall be entered into without approval by the board of commissioners.” That amendment passed on a 10-1 vote, with dissent from Barbara Bergman.

This brief was filed soon after adjournment of the county board’s Dec. 7 meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]