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Council OKs Lee County Animal Services contract

By Staff | Sep 1, 2009

Cape Coral might one day have its own animal control department, though city council does not know how the service might function.
Approved 5-3, the Cape Coral City Council decided Monday to extend an interlocal agreement with Lee County Animal Services for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Some council members were upset by the fact that the cost of the agreement — now at $819,883 — has increased from year to year.
Councilmember Tim Day thought the best course of action would be to institute a 60-day notice to opt out of the contract, though he admitted he does not have a clear cut plan of how to move forward.
Day insisted that county budget cuts would undoubtedly force people out of work within the county department, leaving a tailor-made, certified animal control force ready for hire in the Cape.
“We know where those folks could be that we could bring on board,” he said.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell insisted that assuming such a work force would be available is a mistake. If the city were to opt out of the contract, it would leave citizens in the lurch without a clear path of how to move forward.
“We’re making an assumption they would lay people off,” he said. “There’s too much ambiguity here. At the end of the day, if it works, great. But if it doesn’t, the citizens are held hostage.”
Building the type of infrastructure needed for a successful animal control division was not broached in depth Monday, but the main concern seemed to be how and where the animals would be boarded.
Some ideas thrown around by city council included approaching Charlotte County for a possible interlocal agreement, asking citizens to board animals, using Gulf Coast Humane Society’s facility or even asking local veterinarians to board the perspective animals.
City Attorney Dolores Menendez warned council that if it were to opt out of the interlocal agreement with the county without a plan, it could spell disaster.
She also cautioned that land development codes could hinder local vets from participating.
Council eventually directed city staff to move forward with a 90-day request for proposal.
Councilmembers Eric Grill, Dolores Bertolini and Day opposed extending the agreement.