TEXAS CITY — Galveston County Animal Resource Center officials will have to revise the center’s budget again after some of the cities that fund its operations balked at the proposals pitched by shelter managers.
One city threatened to drop out of the consortium of nine cities and the county that fund the resource center’s operations.
Last month, budget officials with the Galveston County Health District, which manages the center, presented representatives of the consortium with four budget scenarios. Two of those options include a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for the center’s five animal control officers. Some options also included converting two part-time positions to full-time jobs.
Kathy Barroso, chief operating and financial officer with the health district, warned that without pay increases, staff members would likely resign and that parts of the shelter would have to be shut down.
While the county and the cities of Tiki Island, Texas City, Bayou Vista, Kemah and Hitchcock support an option that includes the raises and converting the part-time animal adoption and volunteer coordinator as well as crematory specialist to full-time positions, Santa Fe and Dickinson prefer an option that doesn’t include either.
All of the proposals required that each governing body pay more to fund the resource center’s operations.
In a blistering email to the health district, Clear Lake Shores City Administrator George Jones said his city was prepared to drop out of the consortium if the budget request means the city would have to pay more. Jones said his city isn’t happy with the service it receives.
In the current budget, Clear Lake Shores pays $6,464 for its portion of the $971,206 the consortium pays for animal control services. Under the proposals presented to consortium members, Clear Lake Shores’ annual payment would increase between $270 to $406.
Julie Robinson, Dickinson’s city administrator, said her city council has too many questions about how the animal shelter is managed. The council is concerned that the budget appears to project increased revenues with no real data backing up those projections, Robinson said.
In particular, Robinson questioned a projected $15,000 increase in revenues for crematory services.
Barroso called that projection “conservative” and said that it was based on an expected demand from residents who would want a deceased pet cremated.
Barroso gave no direct response when asked by Robinson where that estimate came from. She only said that making the part-time crematory specialist a full-time post would allow the shelter to offer those services to the public. Barroso said the center would market the service to the public.
Asked by Robinson if that included offering the service to veterinarians, “where most people go to get their (pets) cremated,” Barroso said that was something to be looked at but indicated it was not what revenue figures were based.
The volunteer and animal adoption coordinator’s position is also projected to generate more revenue by boosting the number of animals adopted, thus bringing in more fees.
When Johnston and Santa Fe City Manager Joe Dickson offered options to adjust the less expensive proposal, health district staff members seemed unwilling to move away from the four proposals presented.
Texas City’s representative, City Secretary Nick Finan, offered an alternative that won initial approval.
Finan’s option would increase the number of hours worked by the crematory specialist and the adoption coordinator from 20 hours per week to 30.
If those positions generated increased revenue after six months, then the committee would consider making those jobs full time as well as offering the pay increase.
There was no immediate indication how much that adjustment would cost, but it would be slightly more than the $1.014 million outlined in the least expensive proposal, Barroso said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified George Jones and Julie Robinson. We apologize for this error.