The goal date for a new long-term animal control agreement between Bakersfield and Kern County was pushed back on Wednesday as representatives from both clashed over how to calculate cost-sharing for animal shelter operations.
The county of Kern operates the animal shelter on Mount Vernon Avenue that sits on city land, and the city pays for part of the costs. That arrangement almost fell apart last summer when the county demanded the city pay more for its share of animals brought to the shelter from city property.
The two bodies formed the Metro Bakersfield Animal Control Committee to decide on a long-term agreement.
The temporary agreement in place now ends on June 30, 2013. The county had set a goal of creating a draft agreement by Dec. 19, but Wednesday that was pushed back to early February of 2013.
One bone of contention at Wednesday's meeting was a $898,250 contract with AngelDogs Foundation to provide spay and neuter surgeries on animals adopted out of the shelter. That agreement would be retroactive to last October and continue to June 30, 2014.
Jen Woodard, the county's new animal control director, apologized that city staff hadn't been told that Kern County supervisors were due to consider that contract at their Tuesday meeting, a day earlier.
"That was not the intention, and that will not happen again," she said.
Woodard said she planned to ask the county supervisors to consider an amended contract with AngelDogs at their next board meeting. That agreement would only extend to June 2013. Because the city is already paying a set amount under the temporary contract with the county, it appears it wouldn't have to pay for the extra cost of that amended AngelDogs contract.
But Bakersfield Councilman Ken Weir said that the process showed a lack of communication between the county and city.
Weir, Councilman David Couch and county Supervisors Mike Maggard and Zack Scrivner are the elected officials who make up the committee.
"We're being precluded from being allowed to be part of that decision" on the AngelDogs contract, Weir said.
Steve Teglia, assistant to the city manager, said the city and county should look at other options for spay and neuter services, but that more information is needed to be able to compare offers, such as the breed and size of animals being spayed or neutered.
"There's a lot more data that needs to be reviewed ... before we're asked to pay an equitable share of those costs," Teglia said.
Woodard said AngelDogs is the only organization that offers mobile services, meaning it would travel to the shelter to perform spay and neuter surgeries rather than the shelter staff having to transport animals. Teglia countered that those services don't need to be mobile and the shelter could use one of its own vehicles to move the animals.
Woodard responded that using a shelter vehicle and staff time to transport animals for spay and neuter surgeries would halve the number of rescues the shelter could do.
"Once again, we acknowledge there was a breakdown in communication. This isn't going to occur again," Scrivner said.
County staff have been studying how much time certain county employees, including Woodard, spend on shelter work. The idea is that the city would pay part of those costs, depending on the percentage of animals brought in from city property.
Maggard suggested that the city and county might need to extend their temporary agreement by three months, until the end of next September, if they can't move forward quickly enough on a long-term agreement.
The shelter also is due to get two new trailers this month to house offices and a conference room to replace an aging trailer that the shelter staff have outgrown, Woodard said. The current trailer, if it survives being moved to another spot at the shelter, could be used to accept stray cats, she said.