Proposed city animal shelter fee increases on Sept. 19 commission agenda

City Commissioners will consider increased fees for the Great Falls Animal Shelter during their Sept. 19 meeting.

he proposed changes “reflect the increasing costs of providing services to the public while recouping some of the costs to provide those services,” according to city staff.

The proposed change would restructure animal registration to move from annual licensing to a lifetime only license, which increased licensing participation nationwide, according to staff. The change would also eliminate the individual cremation service category.

The proposed changes also add a community law enforcement fee.

“This fee has been in place for more than 10 years, but staff is unable to find any resolution establishing the current $30 fee,” according to the staff report.

City considering increased animal shelter fees

The fee will cover some of the costs to intake, perform health exams, kennel, and to cover for the three to four day hold period for animals brought into the shelter from the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol.

This fee will not apply to the Great Falls Police Department.

The city animal shelter is an open admission municipal animal shelter, which serves the City of Great Falls and Cascade County, according to the city.

The city stopped accepting animals from county residents in October 2021, according to Chuck Anderson, deputy city manager.

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Anderson told The Electric that the change was communicated to the public at the time via a press release and social media posts.

The Electric has been unable to locate a press release, email or social media post regarding the change. The Electric asked city staff for such documentation and as of yet, it has not been located.

Anderson told The Electric this week that the change was “driven by the number of animals at the shelter and the increasing stress on staff to provide the appropriate capacity for care for those animals.”

The four main source of animal intake at the shelter are the city animal control, CCSO, city residents and county residents.

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Anderson said city residents fund the shelter via taxes and the city has an agreement with CCSO for animal intake, “so we could not cease taking in animals from those sources. Unfortunately, there is no assistance from the county to fund operations, so to be able to provide the appropriate care for the animals and to ensure the health and well-being of the staff, the decision was made to stop the intake of county animals. We will continue to evaluate this, so the right care can be provided for any animal brought into the shelter.”

Commissioners adopted the current fee structure in 2015. That structure specifically addressed cremation fees and created three categories of cremation-general, segregated and individual.

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In 2021, the city shelter converted to the hydro-incinerator, rendering individual cremation a nonviable or cost effective option, according to staff. The segregated cremation process does return individual animal ashes to the owner in a memorial package.

The other fess related to licensing and services haven’t been adjusted since 2014.

The proposed fees are:

proposed animal shelter fees 2proposed animal shelter fees 2

Changing the animal registrations from annual licensing to a lifetime only option will increase compliance with the city’s animal registration ordinance, according to staff. Shelter records indicate only about 10 percent of animal licenses are renewed annually.

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The new fees were included in the current fiscal year’s budget that commissioners adopted in July.

The proposed fees would reflect increased operational costs at the city shelter and staff believes the new fee structure would generate an estimated $20,000.

The current fees are:

animal shelter fees 2015animal shelter fees 2015 2