STANTON — Man’s best friend is about to help Montcalm County’s budget situation.
The Montcalm County Law Enforcement & Courts Committee voted last week to start a dog census program again.
The census will establish whether dog owners have updated licenses for their dogs.
“We know there are licenses that are not being renewed at this time,” Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer told commissioners. “If we get this moving we can generate probably $10,000 or $15,000 in extra revenue per year and that’s probably a low conservative.”
An amnesty period will take place throughout the month of March for county residents who want to update their dog’s license before the census and fines start on April 1. Hyzer said money raised during the amnesty period will help generate revenue to start the census program.
An additional eight hours per week for census work will also be given to Angie Sova or Matt Walrath, both of whom are officers for Montcalm County Animal Control.
“My only concern is that if we do the census then maybe we do a better job than we did in the past,” noted District 8 Commissioner Roger Caris. “If you’ve got something that needs to be dealt with, deal with it and keep it current instead of letting it drag on, which I think was a problem we had in the past.”
District 3 Commissioner Ron Retzloff said he thinks there were problems in the past because the census taker could not issue the summons, which resulted in a “stack of 100” summonses sitting in the office.
“Doing it this way, with our officers issuing the summons, they can take care of it on the spot, which eliminates a second visit,” Retzloff said.
Sova said the additional revenue will help fund Animal Control, as well as other Montcalm County offices and functions.
“There’s a lot of revenue that can be generated from a census,” Sova said. “It’s a huge revenue source. There’s a lot of unlicensed dogs out there.”
Montcalm County officials previously worked on a dog census in the summer of 2009, but had to stop due to staffing reductions, according to Hyzer.
In November 2008, the Board of Commissioners voted to lower the summons fee for delinquent dog licenses from $85 to $25 with the hope that more dog owners would comply with licensing laws.
At that time, Animal Control mailed about 125 summonses every month, but only about a third of dog owners complied.