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Potsdam Humane Society asking for contract increases in 8 of 11 towns for 2014

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POTSDAM - Potsdam Humane Society officials spent much of the past month attending town board meetings around the region, announcing their proposals for changes with their annual contracts to house animals picked up in those communities.

Executive Director Alicia M. Maynard has traveled across much of St. Lawrence County recently to renegotiate contracts with some of the 11 municipalities the group serves. Humane society officials have said they are modifying the contracts so the fees are in line with the animals brought to the shelter from each municipality.

Board President Carrie H. Tuttle said the proposed contracts for the towns of Clifton, Colton and Parishville are decreasing. She said Clifton’s fee will drop by by $1,560. Colton will be decreasing by $510 and Parishville will see a $1,255 reduction.

Some of the major finances of the Potsdam Humane Society include: employee expenses ($158,591), animal-related expenses ($54,670), shelter operation and maintenance ($33,530), and the shelter mortgage payment ($24,060).

Ms. Maynard said that numbers related to town’s contracts are re-evaluated each year through a new animal database. She also added that each animal coming in to the shelter costs $180.

“The contract is based on the number of animals that are coming in. It’s not fair if a contract is the same for a 65 animal town vs. a five animal town,” she said. “The fees will be reflected on the number of animals. So if we can help the towns decrease the number of strays and continue to educate about spay and neutering. We are trying to help the community.”

Ms. Tuttle added that a couple of other changes for next year’s contracts are minimum and maximum increases. The minimum price for a contract is set at $1,775, while each town faces a 25 percent maximum increase.

The humane society’s 2014 contract proposals are:

Brasher - $4,750

Clifton - $1,775

Colton - $4,590

Hermon - $1,775

Hopkinton - $1,800

Lawrence - $2,300

Lisbon - $2,300

Norfolk - $7,375

Parishville - $3,900

Potsdam - $58,200

Stockholm - $5,100

Ms. Maynard has stressed to various boards that the humane society’s primary goal is and will continue to be reducing the population through their spay and neuter program, and they can continue to do that through the growth of educational programs.

The desire for additional educational programs can be attributed to some requests for increased prices in town contracts.

“We’d like to talk to you about the town contract for 2014 with the shelter. There is going to be an increase. This year we’re proposing $1,800 versus the $1,775 which we did previously. So it’s just a $25 increase,” Ms. Maynard told Hopkinton town board members. “We do a lot of involvement with local schools. We go to the colleges and do a bunch of different programs and we actually want to be a bit more proactive this year.

“We’re hoping what we can do is if we help continue education and helping the public know about the spay and neuter program, we’ll get your numbers lower and then we look at the numbers each year. So if your numbers go down, your contract fees go down.”

One of the humane society’s most successful programs is Project S.N.I.P. (Spay Neuter in Potsdam.) In the past two years, the Potsdam Humane Society has performed over 200 surgeries.

Ms. Maynard and Ms. Tuttle have said two thirds of their revenue comes through private donations from local businesses among others, and the other third comes from the town contracts. They also pointed out that the shelter’s annual budget is $297,000.

Towns like Hopkinton, Norfolk, and Stockholm are in the midst of deliberating proposals from the society, while Brasher has already agreed to a $950 increase in their 2014 contract.

Brasher’sannual contract will go from $3,800 to $4,750 and Stockholm has been asked for an increase of $1,050 next year. Hopkinton’s increase request was on the lower end at $25, and Norfolk is being asked for a 25 percent increase totaling $1,475.

“The contract for 2014 is showing an increase of $1,475 per year, so that would bring your total contract to $7,875 per year. ... However, Norfolk is paying much less per animal than almost all of the other municipalities that we are serving because we understand that it’s not reasonable to have an increase that would be more than 25 percent,” Ms. Tuttle explained at Norfolk’s last town board meeting. “So we set an increase cap at 25 percent and tried to keep those communities closer to being fairly charged based on the number of animals that we are having to handle at the shelter.

“All of that revenue that comes in helps us to be able to keep the municipal contracts as low as we possibly can. We understand the challenges that the towns face. In terms of Norfolk’s contract, your number of animals that we actually received from the Norfolk contract in 2012 more than doubled from the previous year. Of the 11 municipalities that we have, it’s the second largest community that brings animals into the shelter.”

Norfolk Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice said that they will consider the proposal but they still have time to make the final agreement.

“We’ve got time. I’ll have to see the breakdown of what everybody else is paying just to justify since that is a pretty good increase,” Mr. Pernice said. “I’d be looking for some more justification in terms of what you’re charging people, what they’re bringing in. Geographically, we have one of the largest towns in St. Lawrence County. Income wise, we’re probably one of the lowest.”

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