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Humane Society asks for $3,000 budget increase

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook Humane Society asked for a budget increase of $3,000 annually, in addition to the $3,000 annual increase they received from council members in September 2010. The request came during the McCook City Council budget workshop Monday evening at council chambers, and would bring the 2011-12 budgeted amount from the city to $46,000.

If approved, the increase will mark the fourth consecutive year of at least a $3,000 increase from the prior year, in the amount of funding the city contributes to the organization. The largest jump came in the 2010-11 budget, which was increased by $6,933 from the previous year.

Human Society board member Anne Dowd cited a 29 percent decrease in donations during 2009-10, which was partially offset by a 28 percent decrease in expenses during that same time period. Dowd commended her staff for actively pursuing budget cuts, but said the shelter had been unable to entirely cover the drop in donations.

Sharlene Riemenschneider, financial advisor to the humane society board, said the group had approached counties outside of Red Willow that utilized the animal shelter, as they had stated they would when requesting additional funds in September. Riemenschneider said they had heard back from only two of the six counties contacted, with Decatur County declining to contribute and Hitchcock County requesting additional information.

"The others are still budgeting," said Riemenschneider, who added that the group requested funding from 11 cities as well, with Bartley and Stratton agreeing to provide $600 and $500 respectively. No response had been received from the other nine cities contacted.

"Indianola and Oberlin continue to be strong supporters," said Riemenschneider, who said that 75 percent of the 1228 animals received in 2009 were from the McCook area.

The group cited difficulty in collecting court ordered compensation from dog cases in Red Willow County, saying that restitution to them was rarely ordered and likely gone unpaid when the courts did order it.

Riemenschneider acknowledged the need for the group of animal lovers, that make up the Humane Society Board of Directors, to take a look at setting policy that limits the timeframe in which animals are housed.

North Platte's animal shelter has a strict three-day euthanasia policy, which limits the financial burden an individual dog can place on it, as well as putting the shelter responsibility back on the pet owner if he/she wishes to maintain the animal following a court case.

Mayor Dennis Berry said the budget process was not such that councilors could provide an answer at that time and said they would consider the request.

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