The Northeast Animal Control Commission, which has been providing animal control services to several northeast Johnson County cities for 35 years, is dissolving effective after the end of this year.
NEACC’s decision last month to disband follows nearly four years of discussion over concerns that the joint program for animal control services no longer makes financial sense for participants. NEACC serves the member cities of Fairway, Mission, Mission Woods, Roeland Park, Westwood and Westwood Hills.
Since the commission’s inception in 1983, the costs of providing animal control services through the organization have risen. NEACC determined that member cities need to explore other options, according to a May 25 memo to NEACC member cities from Laura Smith, city administrator of Mission.
The six cities have paid a combined total of $183,400 so far this year — with each city contributing to the costs on a per capita basis. Last year, NEACC averaged less than three calls per day for animal control services.
The cities have also differed on how they’d prefer to handle animal control under their own unique ordinances, adding another layer of complexity for the commission, Smith said.
“Each community has really wanted that ability to determine what do we want to allow in our community, and how do we want to regulate or enforce?” she added.
All six member cities have committed to stay through the end of 2018, giving them an opportunity to explore other options.
One of those options was for Mission Police Department to handle animal control services in-house by hiring two community service officers. Mission would then offer to contract out its services to other cities. Mission currently provides administrative support for NEACC.
“NEACC voted at their meeting in May to support Mission taking this proposal forward,” Smith said. “I think everybody felt like we had worked through the costs appropriately; they felt comfortable taking those back to their respective governing bodies and looking at that situation.”
Mission city staff presented the new plan to their city council at a June 6 meeting. Those civilian officers would commit 45 percent of their work to animal control services for Mission and cities contracting for services; the rest of their duties would include fingerprinting, walk-in reports, training and other administrative tasks.
Smith said other cities will probably be unable to afford providing services on their own.
Mission Woods, which paid NEACC $1,600 this year, has already expressed interest in contracting with Mission for animal control services.
Under Mission’s suggested plan, cities would pay Mission an annual base entry fee of $1,500 for animal control services plus a per call fee of $100. Calculating each city’s call rate through the NEACC program over the past three years, most of the recipient cities could probably actually save money by contracting with Mission, according to the memo.
The proposed call rate is based exclusively on the community service officers’ time spent on animal control services, Smith added. Mission’s plan would also maintain the current program’s 80-hour per week schedule, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
The Mission council will consider the proposal during its July 11 finance and administration meeting to discuss its 2019 budget. If passed, the city will review the program mid-year to evaluate the services, response times and cost structure. Other member cities will have the summer to review their options as they deliberate their own budgets.
“I think it will be a learning and a growing process, but all trying to work in that same direction,” Smith said, adding that she thinks NEACC has done well in communication and relationship-building among the member cities. “We’d certainly like to see that continue.”