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SPCA asks city for funds for spay-neuter clinic
By JODIE TILLMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 6, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - Nearly a decade ago, a city task force found that the best way to solve the stray cat problem would be to start a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.
That never happened. But now, almost a month after officials dropped a controversial proposal to ban residents from feeding strays, the city faces this request from SPCA Suncoast: Give us $16,355, and we'll open an affordable monthly spay and neuter clinic where city residents can bring stray cats.
SPCA's pitch: This means fewer strays - and, thus, fewer code enforcement issues - in the long run.
"Quite frankly, sheltering is the most expensive activity," said Dionne Blaesing, the president of SPCA's board of directors, told the council Tuesday night.
The spending request comes late in the budget season. On Tuesday night, when SPCA officials made their first presentation, the City Council was also holding the first of two final hearings on an overall $44-million spending plan. But two council members - Marilynn de Chant and Rob Marlowe - said Tuesday that they want to see about working the clinic into next year's budget, and got the proposal on the agenda of an upcoming work session.
SPCA, a no-kill-for-space shelter, already has a roughly $3,000 per month contract with New Port Richey to take strays and house animals that are the subject of code enforcement proceedings, said executive director Martha Murray. The proposed spay-neuter clinic would be held one Saturday a month at the agency's surgical unit on Congress Street. The $16,355 from the city would pay for veterinarian wages and materials used in the operations.
Residents would be asked to pay $25 per animal, though Murray said Wednesday they may charge only a total of $25 for people who want to bring in entire litters but can't afford to pay for each one.
- Approved a 15 percent increase in streetlight assessments, which means the owner of a typical home - between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet - will pay an extra $26 per year. City officials say the increase reflects a higher power bill from Progress Energy.
- Gave initial approval to an ordinance to seek up to $8.65-million in bank notes to help finance upcoming capital projects, including water main replacements, a new public works complex and the city's portion of a reclaimed water system in the North River Road neighborhood. The ordinance also would allow the city to refinance a 1996 water and sewer bond with a loan of up to $4.6-million from SunTrust Bank. The refinancing will save the city more than $1-million in interest payments, Finance Director Rick Snyder said. Total debt service on both pots of money will cost about $1.2-million a year for 15 years.