by Walker County News Today staff
At its first meeting of 2018 the Huntsville City Council voted unanimously to continue to receive animal shelter services from the City of Conroe, but the cost of those services will increase dramatically.
Prior to 2016 the City had been receiving animal shelter services from the Rita B. Huff Humane Society at a cost of around $45,000 a year. But in 2016 the Society requested an increase to $150,000 to continue with that arrangement. That amount, however, did not make it into the City budget and the Society chose to terminate the contract in November.
As a result, the City Council declared an emergency in December 2016 and began a process to expedite the building of a separate animal shelter. But that process ran into difficulty and a year passed before the Council considered a bid to build the shelter for $350,000. A separate bid to operate the shelter came in at $300,000 per year.
In the meantime, in March of 2017, the City of Conroe agreed to provide temporary services and the City has been operating under an arrangement with them since that time. The cost of that service was about the same as the City was paying to the Rita B. Huff, but the number of animals taken in was considerably less.
As an alternative to building the new shelter, the City Staff discussed with Conroe the possibility of a longer-term arrangement. The result was a proposal brought to the Council in November, but a decision on that was deferred because some members of the Council, including the Mayor, were concerned about the amount of money that would be lost to another City when a Huntsville solution might still be possible. There was also concern about the inconvenience and cost to Huntsville residents of having to drive to Conroe and pay Conroe’s fees to reclaim their lost pets.
The new agreement would be for five years and would allow Huntsville to transport up to 480 animals per year to the Conroe Shelter. The price would start at $200,000 a year and Conroe could increase that price by up to 5% annually. The price would not be reduced if less than 480 animals were brought in and Conroe would not be required to accept more than 480 animals.
The agreement would still require that Huntsville residents travel to Conroe and pay shelter fees for impounded animals they wish to reclaim. Those fees are expected to average about $85 per animal.
The agreement could be terminated at any time by either party by giving appropriate notice, 90 days in the case of Huntsville and 360 days in the case of Conroe.
After five-years, unless otherwise terminated, the agreement would automatically renew on an annual basis.
In other business Tuesday night, the Council approved a $48,000 consulting contract for a study of the salary structure for the City Staff. The study will compare existing job classifications and salaries with those of other Texas Cities and make recommendations for change.
The Council also approved renewals of two standing city contracts, one for administrative support for the city’s health insurance system and the other for legal services in 2018 related to matters involving Entergy at the Public Utility Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.