The Save the Geese volunteers are honking about the Board of Trustees’ decision to scale back the amount it will pay them for providing a dog to chase the geese away from Collins Park.
There are split opinions on the board that are to be discussed at tonight’s meeting at 7 in Village Hall.
Save the Geese leases a border collie to harass the migratory Canada geese that frequent the park. In 2006, the Board of Trustees had planned to hire an exterminator to kill the geese. However, Save the Geese formed and persuaded village officials to try harassment with the dog as a more humane way of getting rid of the animals, which in 2007 proved quite successful.
Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the organization, said that when the geese returned this past spring there were only about 80 on a regular basis compared with 200 the previous year. Brown said village officials seemed to be pleased with the results and said they would pay the $500 cost per month to lease the dog for September, October and November of 2007.
However, Brown said the trustees more recently have been asking for more information such as a lease agreement and how many hours volunteers have spent in the park. They provided this information and the board wanted more. Now, it appears the board will pay only for November.
Brown said Save the Geese did not ask to be reimbursed, but the village offered.
“Now there seems to be more dissension among board members. They don’t want to pay. We held up our end of the bargain,” she said. “We met their requirements and they’re kind of doing this after the fact.”
She added that the cost the village would pay to hire an exterminator is far more than they would pay for this service.
Brown said Save the Geese will continue to do its work, despite the flap over the money.
Another Save the Geese volunteer, Erika Scott, was moved to write a letter to The Daily Gazette about this situation. She said in the letter that the organization was only asking for the lease cost and not the expense to house and feed the dog. She added that volunteers spent more than 35 hours per week in the spring, summer and fall months.
“Our request to cover expenses for the lease of the border collie is indeed a very reasonable one considering what the cost would be to hire professionals to exterminate or haze the geese,” she wrote.
Trustee Armon Benny said he supports paying for November, but never supported “backpaying” them for the previous months.
“They did this out of their desire to prove that this method of control would work. You don’t go volunteering to do something and then say — by the way — pay me for all that time,” he said.
Mayor Kris Kastberg said he supports Save the Geese’s efforts and will see if the trustees would reconsider their decision and reimburse the group’s efforts back to August. He said they have been doing a good job controlling the geese during the peak of the season. “There were 25 or fewer geese in the park on a regular basis,” he said.
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