TEXAS CITY — It’s back to the drawing board for the Galveston County Animal Resource Center, which is revising its fiscal 2015 budget after some member cities balked at proposed cost increases.
The proposed budget of about $1.4 million included funding to make full-time jobs out of two part-time positions — a combined volunteer coordinator and adoption counselor and a cremation specialist — and provided a pay increase for the 22 full-time animal services employees.
The changes would have led to an increase of about $185,000 in the county’s animal services operating budget. Part of that proposed increase, about $50,000, would have been covered by the nine cities that help fund the county animal service, according to data from the Galveston County Health District, which manages the county’s Animal Resource Center.
The county helps pay for the shelter cost and field services, as does Bayou Vista, Clear Lake Shores, Dickinson, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Santa Fe, Tiki Island and Texas City. All those cities pay into the animal services budget in proportion to their population, said Kathy Barroso, chief operating and financial officer with Galveston County Health District.
Barroso said she hoped to have a new budget within a month.
The proposed new full-time positions would have helped in increasing the number of volunteers and adoptions, as well as bringing new revenue, Barroso said.
Barroso said the shelter is already improving in two important categories. The adoption rate has increased from 11 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the euthanasia rate decreased from 63 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2013, Barroso said.
Part of the improvement comes from the work of the volunteer coordinator and adoption counselor, who is now employed part time, said Kurt Koopmann, a spokesman with the health district.
“I think if we could make that position full time, we would see even more improvement in that area,” he said.
By making the cremation specialist a full-time position, the shelter would be able to offer that service to the public; right now the part-time specialist can only handle the resource center’s needs, Barroso said.
That would have led to increased cremation service revenue — and those projected revenues will now be cut out of the budget, she said.
The proposed budget also included a pay increase that averaged about 5 percent per employee, she said.
Most cities would have seen their contributions increase about 8 percent to cover those costs — and Texas City would have seen its contribution increase about 13 percent.
In the past, all members have agreed on a budget, Barroso said. At a meeting last week, at least two cities — Dickinson and Clear Lake Shores — were clearly against the increased budget, she said. Eventually, all agreed with a motion to redraft the budget, Barroso said.
The city of Dickinson contributes $113,593 every year to the county shelter, said Dickinson City Administrator Julie Robinson. The proposed budget would have meant Dickinson would need to kick in another $9,619.
Robinson said the resource center needed to look toward new revenue streams, such as grants and registration fees, to fund the new positions — rather than asking the cities to pick up the cost.
“While the (volunteer coordinator and adoption counselor) position may need to be full time, and I’m sure that it does, they have not come up with how they are actually going to fund it without just sending everybody a bill for more money,” Robinson said.
Clear Lake Shores City Administrator George Jones said the city was not willing to increase the funding if it meant having to cut other areas of the city’s budget. The city contributes about $6,464 toward animal services, and the proposed budget would have increased that by $547, according to the health district.
“We are not willing to cut our local functions to fund animal resources because we do not feel we are receiving our money’s worth,” Jones said.
Bayou Vista Alderman Mark Johnstone said that while some of the smaller cities may not benefit as directly from the animal shelter, funding the shelter was good for the county and, therefore, ultimately good for the member cities as well.
Bayou Vista would have seen an increase of $791 under the proposed budget. Johnstone said that while he would have preferred it to be a smaller increase, Bayou Vista could have agreed to it.
“Bayou Vista does this because we want the county to prosper,” Johnstone said.
Texas City has its own animal control officers, so it pays only into the operation of the animal shelter. It would have seen its contribution increase by $20,887 under the proposed budget, according to the health district.
The city was ready to pay for the increase but did not want to burden some of the smaller municipalities with the increase, said Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle.
“We are going to follow their lead,” Doyle said. “We don’t want to put any excess burden on them that they don’t think they can handle.”
City / Annual contribution / Proposed contribution / Proposed increase
Bayou Vista $9,347 $10,138 $791
Clear Lake Shores $6,464 $7,011 $547
Dickinson $113,593 $123,212 $9,619
Hitchcock $42,330 $45,914 $3,584
Kemah $10,782 $11,695 $913
La Marque $88,229 $95,700 $7,471
Santa Fe $74,322 $80,615 $6,293
Tiki Island $5,886 $6,385 $499
Texas City $156,306 $177,193 $20,887
TOTAL $507,259 $557,863 $50,604
SOURCE: Galveston County Animal Resource Center