Fair share: Sherman considers increase to outside animal control fees

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sherman Police are considering a nearly 900 percent increase in the city's fees for taking in animals from other municipalities.

Sherman may soon increase the rate it charges outside municipalities for animal control services. City staff are recommending that the council adopt a $440 fee for each animal the that the city takes in from other cities and municipalities as a way of equitably balancing the costs of the animal shelter.

The change in rates comes following the Sherman Police Department's absorption of animal control into its organizational structure and efforts to restructure and better manage operations. This has led the department to evaluate the rates it charges other organizations to take in an animal.

The shelter also has seen a significant influx of animals this past years that has led to over crowding and the potential need for more space. Currently, the city is accepting animals under an expired contract with the county.

"We have the documents prepared to move forward with an interlocal agreement with the county to basically redo the contract we've had concerning animal services," Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores said. "With a new council coming on, it seems prudent to just go over it real quick ... there is such a big difference between what we've been doing and what we are looking to do that it is important for us to make sure that you have all the information you need."

Historically, the city has charged outside agencies $50 to intake an animal. Grayson County has been the largest user of this service with about 20 percent of all animals coming from Grayson County in fiscal year 2020. However, the expenses from keeping and housing these animals has often been much higher than that.

For the 2020 fiscal year, Flores said the county brought in about 20 percent of the animals that came into Sherman's shelter. However, it only paid about $25,700 for this service — roughly 2.7 percent of the total cost for shelter operations.

If the county were to pay for 20 percent of the shelter's costs for housing animals it would bring the cost to about $440 per animal, or about $230,000 in total based on fiscal year 2020's numbers.

Flores said he chose this model based on how Collin County manages its operations for many of the municipalities within it.

"We are looking at this as equitable cost sharing, really, for the number of animals they bring in," Flores said.

Flores noted that these numbers would be compared at the end of the year and the city would rebate or bill again if there was a difference in what was owed.

Sherman Mayor David Plyler expressed some concerns that the steep increase in price could have unwanted consequences including an increase in illegal dumping of animals in rural areas. Flores noted that owner surrenders are not expected to increase in cost. This change would only impact animals that are brought in through out cities or municipalities.

Despite this, Council Member Pam Howeth said something needs to be done to balance the operations at the shelter so that the city and its taxpayers isn't paying more than its fair share

"We are looking at ways to deal with the overcrowding," she said. "None of us want to raise costs or anything, not even for the county, but we've got to do something because we've outgrown our shelter."

"We are just trying to level the playing field a little bit," Howeth said.

Flores said he still needs to approach the county with the new numbers. They are aware that changes are happening, but he said they do not know the scale of the change. As such, the county has not included these funds in its budget.

Council Member Josh Stevenson recommended that the change be put in place on Jan. 1, 2022 instead of the city delaying the change over and prolonging the imbalance.

"I don't see any benefit of waiting," he said. "I don't think it is going to break the county's bank and we might as well start the new year on the right foot."