During the Wednesday, August 9 Elk Grove City Council meeting, a hearing on a commissioned study on the city's animal shelter will be held. That study validates several complaints voiced during repeated city council meetings by feline advocates and paints a bleak picture of the facility's financial health.

The study performed by Citygate Associates shows the facility is understaffed. Over the last several months, animal shelter advocates interested in the city's feral cat population have pressed Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council to hire another veterinarian to amplify spay and neuter services.

Regarding staffing, the report recommends the following:

3.1 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDITIONAL STAFF Citygate recommends the addition of multiple positions to meet the current operational needs and future program goals of the Shelter
3.1.1 Summary of Position Recommendations The following is a summary of position recommendations by department: 
Animal Care ◆ Add 4 additional positions: ➢ 2 Animal Care Assistants ➢ 1 Animal Care Specialist ➢ 1 Animal Care Senior to function as the Lead Behaviorist Animal Services Officers 
◆ More staff is needed to be responsive and proactive:
Customer Service ◆ Add 1 position: ➢ 1 Customer Service Specialist
Veterinary Staff ◆ Add 2 positions: ➢ 1 RVT ➢ 1 Veterinary Assistant
Administration ◆ Consider the addition of an Assistant Manager to address span of control

Regarding the financial condition of the animal shelter, the report notes:

Fiscal Highlights The City’s Animal Services Department has a fiscal year (FY) 2022–2023 budget of approximately $4.85 million for expenditures and $312,148 in expected revenues, resulting in an anticipated General Fund subsidy requirement of approximately $4.54 million. Based on conservative budgeting practices, the actual year-end subsidy could be lower. Vacancies have led to increases in overtime usage. Based on interviews with Department staff regarding the various fiscal processes used by the animal services function, Citygate found the processes, as outlined, generally conformed with industry practices. Where Citygate identified improvements that should be made regarding some fiscal practices, these improvements are discussed in the fiscal review section of this report.

Organizationally, animal services are part of the Elk Grove Police Department. Built at the cost of $18 million in response to community demands, the animal shelter opened in October 2019.

Along with the criticism of the lack of spay and neuter services, the animal services euthanization of a canine named Zeus last year generated controversy. Not only has the handling of the procedure resulted in ongoing state and federal lawsuits, but the manner in which the remains of Zeus were turned over to the dog's owner was also criticized.

The city's fiscal budget for 2024 began on July 1, and during an administrative report on June 14, city manager Jason Behrmann said hiring an additional veterinarian during the current fiscal year is not a priority. See the video below.

Wednesday's city hall meeting starts at 6 p.m. The Citygate study can be viewed here

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Drilling down further into the consultant report...

"Anticipated FY 23 expenditures are predicted to be approximately $700,000 more—or 17 percent—above the prior year, which is due primarily to increased costs in personnel ($213,000), IT-related software ($112,000), legal costs ($98,000), insurance ($100,000), special department supplies ($88,000), and veterinarian-related costs ($30,000).

As is the case with most animal services functions, personnel costs make up the majority of operational costs. For EGAS, anticipated FY 23 wages and benefit costs make up approximately 50 percent of total costs. FY 23 budgeted wages and benefits costs are approximately 9.7 percent higher compared to the prior fiscal year" (pg.38)

Even with the recommended phasing in of the added staffing, I'd say the Animal Hilton's budget is multiplying like rabbits and that ain't no kibbles and bits! Homeowners, watch your Mello-Roos tax assessments because this is on your backs.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

So, the city of Elk Grove has proven it can't take care of the animals we have now. And still the Elk Grove City Council hungers for the zoo?

Steve L said...

Eye is right. A zoo will be a financial boondoggle that will likely bankrupt the city. Just not a sound financial endeavor. More quality restaurants, bars and high end retail would be more prudent.

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