Unlicensed dog owners beware: the city might come knocking next year.
City Clerk Charles Thorne has tried for a year to persuade the City Council to pay for part-timers who would knock on every door in the city in search of unlicensed dogs. He wants to crack down on those dogs in the wake of several maulings in recent years.
Last year at budget time he was rejected. But this year, things went a little better. No one expressed vehement opposition, as some members had in the past.
“Everybody’s pretty comfortable with it now,” said Council President Margaret King.
But that doesn’t mean it will happen. The council is searching for places to cut to eliminate a $343,464 increase to the tax levy.
On list, but could be cut
Thorne only needs $22,500 to fund his dog census, but that might make it onto the council’s list of cuts.
Councilman Carl Erikson said the council plans to discuss that list only at the very end of the process.
That would be after the public hearing.
He said he expected council members to discuss all of the cuts at once.
“I think the way this is going this year is nobody’s saying, ‘I’m opposed to this, I want this cut, I want this added,’ at this stage,” Erikson said. “At the end, we’ll kind of get everyone’s opinion of what they’d like to see cut and what they’d like to see kept.”
Thorne might have to sell his idea a little more to get final approval.
CouncilOR seeks Review
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said she still had questions about how he would spend the $22,500. She wants an analysis showing how much companies bid to perform the work and whether it would be cheaper for the city to do the work in-house.
Because the city has not gone out to bid on it, it might be difficult to provide that information. Thorne has proposed hiring several part-timers to do the work during the summer.
“I definitely want to have a conversation with Chuck about it,” Perazzo said. “I just want some substance to it. I just want to know there is a plan attached: this is how we’ll be handling it and this is how much it will cost.”
Thorne’s proposal hasn’t changed significantly from his initial idea. He wants workers to go door to door, knocking and ringing doorbells while listening for any signs of a dog.
If a dog is there, but the address isn’t on the city’s list of dog licenses, an animal control officer would be sent to the location to tell owners that they must license their dog.
Licensing requires proof of vaccination. According to state health records, each year about 40 people in Schenectady must get a series of rabies vaccinations because they were bitten by an unlicensed dog whose owner had no proof of vaccination.
Licensing costs $13.50 for neutered dogs and $20.50 for unneutered dogs. Senior citizens get a $10 discount.