City manager gets defensive over Elk Grove Animal Shelter staffing as TNR advocates continue pressure campaign

This is a continuation of the story TNR feline advocate continues pressing Elk Grove, call out Councilmember Sergio Robles for taxpayer-paid travel

In an unusual move, during the October 13, 2023 Elk Grove City Council meeting, city manager Jason Behrmann responded to public comments on non-agenda items. Typically, city staff, Mayor Bobbie Signh-Allen, and her four city councilmen loathe responding to remarks.

However, it appeared the usually calm Behrmann was flustered with the persistence of the trap, neuter, and release (TNR) advocates who have been making their case for over one year and needed to defend city actions. The TNR advocates have argued for expanding services at the Elk Grove Animal Shelter, specifically having two staff veterinarians.  

While Behrmann said the city appreciates the passion of the trap, neuter, and release feline advocates, he also said he wanted to address what he said was misinformation.

"I think there is a misunderstanding, misinformation that is circling out there that we would be happy to sit down with those individuals who spoke tonight and try to clarify something and help them understand what we are doing," Behrmann said.

Taking the offense, Behrmann also highlighted the sizeable financial commitment made by the city to build and staff the animal shelter. Opened in 2019, the city council bowed to community pressure to operate the facility, which is part of the police department's budget. 

"I would like to remind the audience, as well as the council, that up to just a couple years ago, there was no veterinarian in Elk Grove, there was no animal shelter, there were no services, they were all provided elsewhere," he said. "The city, city council invested millions and millions of dollars in not only building a new facility, in hiring staff, hiring a veterinarian."

Behrmann also acknowledged the shelter is not staffed with a veterinarian, but the city is actively recruiting a replacement. Additionally, the city is using contracted veterinarians until the position is filled.

When Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen asked about adding a second veterinarian, Behrmann said it was not feasible. Berhmann said the city's former veterinarian did not see the need for another.

"The problem with hiring a second veterinarian is you have to hire a whole team of technicians, assistants to go along with the position," Behrmann stated. 

That comment was met with jeers from the audience in attendance. Behrmann's entire commentary can be viewed in the video.  

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I agree, the Feline Brigade ought to be lucky there even is an animal shelter in the first place! Against all sound fiscal prudence, the City floated a bond to pay for this Animal Hilton and I seem to recall that the City had to put up their City Hall up as collateral.

In a stroke of genius, the former City Manager put the Animal Hilton in the Police Department budget so the fine residents who pay Mello-Roos tax assessments for "police services" would pick up most of the tab. I wonder how many of the Feline Brigade are even in the tax assessment district and paying their fair share? How many of them are just freeloaders screaming for more kibbles and bits!

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