Monday, May 27, 2013

Austin - Will The Additional Costs of No-Kill Ever End?

It's budget time of the year again. We all know that Nathan Winograd and other No-Kill advocates regularly tell us how cost effective and sustainable their solution is, while the actual numbers consistently show us that it is not the case.

Less Revenue Confirmed

As many will recall, Mr. Winograd claims that No-Kill is cost effective because it results in higher revenue as more animals are adopted out.  Many of us already knew that most of the No-Kill communities are doing free or severely discounted adoptions to get animals out the doors in a hurry.

Here is the adoption revenue for Austin.

Austin Animal Services - Adoption Revenue
2007-2008 $245,944
2008-2009 $283,284
2009-2010 $285,515
2010-2011 $217,428
2011-2012 $105,635
2012-2013 $105,760 (Estimate)

Not quite the bonanza of revenue claimed by Mr. Winograd and other No-Kill advocates is it??

Even More Expenses !!!

The sustainability of Austin's plan is also brought into question again with their recent Unmet Service Demands Report for their upcoming budget process.  Here is the synopsis of the additional funds they will be requesting this year.

City of Austin
Summary of Unmet Service Demands for General Fund
FY 2013-14
The Animal Services Office is requesting 5 new customer service representatives to assist with the Implementation of the No‐Kill plan at the new animal shelter. On average, the shelter must place 18,000 companion animals in order to achieve No‐Kill. To meet the demands of the No‐Kill Plan, the shelter is now open every day of the year except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Staffing needs have increased as a result; the department has utilized temporary staff to cover these increased operational needs. Additionally, the off‐site adoption program, mandated by the No‐Kill plan, requires additional resources to maintain viability; currently, the program is supported heavily by volunteers and temporary employees.
5 FTE - $271,478

The Animal Services Office is requesting 7 Animal Care workers to support the core sheltering functions of care, cleaning, and maintenance of animal housing areas. The new animal shelter is larger than the old shelter at Town Lake, and that coupled with the increased shelter hours has created a strain on the existing personnel resources. The department houses an average of 500 animals daily at the shelter, and was cited by the Department of State Health Veterinarians as not having adequate staffing for the number of animals housed; standards require that staff spent a minimum of 15 minutes of cleaning and feeding per animal per day, a standard the department strives to achieve through the use of temporary employees.
7 FTE - $339,659

The Behavior Program at Austin Animal Center requires additional staffing to meet the demands of the scope of service as described in the No Kill Implementation Plan adopted by City Council in March 2010. The program is currently operating with 1.0 Animal Behaviorist, but is in need of 2.0 Animal Health Technicians to effectively assess and treat approximately 5,000 animals annually. The behavior program contributes to the Live Outcome goal by identifying animals with behavior issues that can be addressed through rehabilitation, training and special placement options, negating the necessity for euthanasia.
2 FTE - $104,47 

So not only has the revenue decreased, Austin's Animal Services Department  will be requesting another hike of  $715,624 this year.

I have to wonder yet again, what other services will take to hit for this increase.  A couple years ago it was less library hours, so it will be interesting to watch and see whether the city has additional revenue to throw to Animal Services, or whether cuts in other areas of the budget will be needed to continue funding Austin's No-Kill initiative.

Will This The Be The Future For Delaware Counties?

Just this weekend, No-Kill Delaware made the following statement in response to the recent New Castle County audit.
"If need be, the counties could do it themselves. There are municipalities all over the U.S. that handle dog control and shelters themselves rather than contract it out." - No-Kill Delaware Facebook Post
So it should also be interesting to watch what happens here as a result of CAPA.  Obviously the costs will be higher if the counties decide to take on dog control themselves with county wages and benefits.  They will also be subject to the same laws and complaints that the Kent County SPCA has been subject to under CAPA, and people have even less apprehension about attacking government than they do attacking a non-profit.  So our costs here in Delaware for dog control may be about to take on the same incline that Austin has seen.  We will already be off and running with the additional initial costs proposed by our Animal Welfare Task Force.