Bloomington ratifies $380K annual animal agreement with Monroe County, Ellettsville

At its meeting last Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council ratified a three-way agreement between the city, Monroe County, and the town of Ellettsville, for animal control services.

This year, the contract calls for Monroe County and Ellettsville to pay the city of Bloomington a total of $379,327.

Most of that amount will be paid by the county government. The breakdown is $356,790 by the county government and $22,536 by Ellettsville.

Part of what the county and town governments get is the ability of their residents to surrender their animals to the shelter without paying a fee. Under the agreement, Bloomington has to provide services on behalf of the county and town, like adoptions, responding to inquiries from the public, and receiving and recording license fees.

Under the agreement, animals that originate in the unincorporated part of the county or in the town of Ellettsville, will be housed, cared for and, if necessary, euthanized by the city of Bloomington.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Virgil Sauder, who’s Bloomington’s director of animal care and control, said that in 2020, 97 percent of all the dogs and 93 percent of all the cats in the shelter’s care were returned home, adopted out into new families, or transferred to rescue groups.

Those that were euthanized were described by Sauder as having serious medical issues—for example, animals that were hit by a car. Another category of euthanized animal described by Sauder were “severely aggressive animals.”

The dollar amounts specified in the contract are based on the previous year’s animal numbers, which in this case is 2019.

In 2019, a total of 1,801 animal arrived at the shelter from the unincorporated parts of Monroe County and Ellettsville.

The formula used to calculate the amounts each government agency owes starts with the actual expenditures at the shelter, which in 2019 was $940,405. From that number, revenue from adoption fees is subtracted. In 2019, adoption fees totaled $108,867, leaving a net cost of $831,538.

The total number of animals taken in by the shelter in 2019 was 3,948. Dividing that number into the net cost yields a cost per animal of $210.62. Monroe County and Ellettsville’s costs were calculated based on the number of animals from each jurisdiction, multiplied by the cost per animal.

In 2019, the relative proportions of animals originating in the respective jurisdictions was about the average number over the last several years. A bit under half of the animals, 46 percent of them, came from unincorporated parts of Monroe County.

The fiscal impact statement for the interlocal animal care agreement, which is required to accompany any legislation considered by the city council, was missing two answers on the standard form.  One missing answer was the impact on expenditures. The other missing answer was a description of factors which could lead to significant additional expenditures in the future.

Both pieces of information are required under local law to be a part of the required fiscal impact statement. An email message about the missing information, sent to the council’s attorney and the city attorney by The Square Beacon before Wednesday’s meeting, did not get a response. Under local law, the city council’s attorney “may edit the statement to clarify information and ensure accuracy and completeness.”

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