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Potsdam Humane Society receives $950 increase in Brasher contract; seeks $1,050 from Stockholm

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BRASHER FALLS — Brasher Town Board members have agreed to increase their allotment to the Potsdam Humane Society to cover the expense of animals that are brought to the shelter by the town’s animal control officer.

Their 2013 contract calls for the town to pay $3,800, and that will increase to $4,750 in 2014. The town has a year-to-year contract with the animal shelter.

Meanwhile, the Stockholm Town Board is deliberating a request for an additional $1,050 in its contract with the Potsdam Humane Society for 2014. It currently has a $4,051 contract with the humane society.

Potsdam Humane Society officials had requested a $950 increase in its contract with the town of Brasher to help cover the increased expenses they’re facing.

Potsdam Humane Society Executive Director Alysia M. Maynard told town board members this week that it’s seeing an increase in the number of animals brought in from the town of Brasher and also providing more up-front services before those animals are adopted out.

Ms. Maynard said the society had taken in 34 animals from the town in 2011. That increased to 52 animals in 2012. So far this year, 32 animals from Brasher have ended up at the Potsdam Humane Society.

“Based on that, the town should be paying $7,956.75. Obviously that’s unrealistic. We want to keep it to a 25 percent increase,” she said.

Ms. Maynard said two-thirds of the Potsdam Humane Society’s budget is covered by private donations, while one-third comes from the towns.

The cost for the Human Society is $180 per animal, she said. The adoption expenses, following ASPCA guidelines, include implanting a microchip in the animal, providing it with vaccines, testing for leukemia and offering spaying or neutering.

For some animals, she said, the organization also tries to help with behavioral issues, provide training and address medical issues before the animal is put up for adoption.

The primary reason for the request for a contract increase was to cover the increasing number of animals coming to the shelter from Brasher, Ms. Maynard said.

“If we notice we can get your numbers down, we’re going to decrease it,” she said.

Board members had agreed in August 2012 to extend their contract with the Potsdam Humane Society by another year for $3,800, the same amount they were paying in 2012.

Board members had agreed in June 2011 to sever their long-time relationship with the North Country Animal Shelter in Malone in favor of the Potsdam Humane Society, a facility that was closer.

They initially began a six-month contract with the Potsdam Humane Society on July 1, 2011 for $1,900. They were paying the North Country Animal Shelter approximately $4,500 for the year.

They had said at the time that the six-month period would give them time to evaluate the move before deciding if they wanted to initiate a full-year contract with the facility.

In addition to the savings they saw by switching shelters, town officials also noted that there would be lower mileage expenses for their dog control officer, who had been taking stray dogs to the Malone facility.

Ms. Maynard and board member Robert Jewett made a similar presentation to the Stockholm Town Board earlier in the week. “There will be an increase for 2014. It has been the same fee for the past two to three years. Your numbers have been going up so the contract needs to go up,” she said.

Mr. Jewett said Potsdam Humane Society board members have been reviewing their contracts with municipalities that have contracts with the agency. He said, based on the number of animals served from the town of Stockholm, the contract price should nearly double from $4,050 to the true cost of $8,510.

“We realize we can’t make that large of an adjustment. But we serve 11 townships, and some of the contracts are out of whack. We’re trying to base our contracts on real numbers. In a sense, some of the other towns are subsidizing the town of Stockholm,” he told Stockholm Town Board members.

Ms. Maynard said her board is capping increases at 25 percent, noting there is already a baseline for towns that have contracts with the agency.

She noted humane society numbers indicate the shelter housed 58 animals from the town of Stockholm in 2012 and 34 animals from the municipality in 2011. She was unable to provide year to date numbers at this week’s town board meeting.

Town Supervisor Clark Decker noted the town board is already grappling with revenue issues to maintain its highway department fleet. “It’s a tough time to be looking at a 25 percent increase,” he said.

“We’re still going to be subsidizing you, even with that $1,050 increase,” Mr. Jewett countered.

Speaking later at the meeting, Arthur Sweeney, the town’s budget officer, said the town has allocated $4,000 for dog control for the past several years. He inferred he would be willing to add the $1,000 to that line item.

“It’s just coming up with that $1,000,” Mr. McCuin said.

Councilman Robert McCuin pointed out the convenience of the Potsdam shelter saved the municipality in mileage paid to the dog control officer when she transports canines to the facility. “There’s not a lot of options,” he pointed out.

The Potsdam Humane Society had a $297,728 spending plan for 2013 with nearly 40 percent of its revenue, $108,837, coming from donations and another 31 percent, $91,815, coming from contracts with 11 municipalities.

Major expenses include $158,591 budgeted for employee expenses, $54,670 for animal-related expenses, $33,530 for shelter operation and maintenance and $24,060 for the shelter mortgage payment.

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