Another big step taken toward contracting out animal services |

Another big step taken toward contracting out animal services

John Barrette

Initial approval of an altered animal services ordinance secured 3-1 approval from Carson City’s Board of Supervisors Thursday despite questions about policing language.

The ordinance, which won’t take effect until after another vote at a subsequent meeting, will allow the city to farm out animal services by contract rather than handle rounding up of strays and running the animal shelter with city employees.

A board majority, with Supervisor Jim Shirk dissenting and Mayor Robert Crowell in the audience, decided the ordinance allowing the city to contract with a society for the protection of animals — such as Nevada’s Humane Society — was written properly and any modifications about policing could come in subsequent contract language if necessary.

Supervisor John McKenna did add words about “powers the city deems necessary” to broaden the ordinance, but basically it was accepted on first reading as drafted by Randy Munn of the District Attorney’s office. Shirk said the McKenna addition was what prompted his dissent. Crowell was in the audience. He had arrived late to the meeting after being interviewed on national TV with CNBC on a separate topic — Tesla Motors coming to Northern Nevada.

Kevin Ryan, chief executive officer of the Nevada Humane Society, was asked if he had a problem with the draft that include language about his employees policing, as well as enforcing, regulating and handling other tasks of animal services.

“I don’t have a problem with it, no,” he said, adding neither did he have problems with Supervisor Brad Bonkowski’s idea of using “supervising” as an alternative to policing.

In the end, however, City Manager Nick Marano and McKenna prevailed. They said there have been few objections, the city manager’s time line is to make changes by October, and putting any new language in the contract would be best.

Lisa Helget, a candidate for supervisor in Ward 1, raised the objection to the word policing and called for not only a change but a public forum to air the issue.

She expressed concern a humane society agent could get caught up in a violent situation involving a vicious dog or some other circumstance in which human emotions escalate. She indicated, however, she could await the contract language debate to press her issue.

Helget is challenging Supervisor Karen Abowd, who happened to be presiding in place of Crowell when Helget testified.

Marano and others said the second reading of the ordinance on Sept. 18 would come after the proposed contract is put before the board, at which time language issues may be debated and resolved.

In other action, the board gave its preliminary first reading approval to refinancing bonded indebtedness at lower interest rates. The refunding bond issues, according to Finance Director Nick Providenti, will save nearly $357,000 over coming years on water bonds, more than $228,000 on sewer bonds and nearly $668,000 on V&T Railway bonds.