DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez says he believes the parish needs to look at setting up a dedicated funding mechanism to pay for parish animal control.
The current user fee structure, coupled with flat fees the municipalities pay for parish services, generates about $140,000 per year.
But parish animal control costs about $400,000 a year to operate and funding is being drawn from roads to cover the $260,000 difference, he told the Parish Council on Thursday.
The shelter serves the unincorporated parts of Ascension and, by contract, the parish’s three municipalities of Donaldsonville, Gonzales and Sorrento.
Martinez’s comments arose during a council vote on revising user fees set by the parish animal control ordinance. The council later approved the fees without opposition during its meeting in Donaldsonville.
But Martinez said the program is not going to be a “break-even deal” no matter what amount of money animal control fees generate.
“Bottom line, you are going to have to come up with some type of dedicated funding if you want it to continue to operate like it is,” he said.
Council members did not offer a response to Martinez’s call for dedicated funding, but Councilman Todd Lambert did ask whether the parish’s contracts with the municipalities could be increased to bring in more revenue for animal control.
Martinez added that recreation and mosquito control both lack dedicated funding, a situation the public will have to address in deciding whether or not to continue those services.
The council Thursday night added fees for impounding dangerous dogs that threaten, bite or attack humans or animals as well as other fees to be collected when the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office must be called out to deal with animal control incidents.
The parish will now charge a $50 fee for spayed or neutered dogs that threaten or bite and a $250 fee for a second offense. The fee structure bumped those fees to $75 and $300, respectively, for fertile animals.
The changes also boosted the fee for animal euthanasia from $10 to $20 per case and added a $75 fee every time the Sheriff’s Office has to be called out.
An amendment added at the council meeting to the new fee ordinance makes clear the user fees will be charged to residents inside and outside parish municipalities.
Other action by the council included:
PROPERTY TAX: The council agreed without opposition to continue to levy a 2-mill property tax dedicated to the parish health unit.
In November, voters agreed to renew the 10-year property tax for up to 2 mills.
The council had to vote Thursday to decide what millage actually to levy from land and property owners.