MOUNT VERNON — Notices have already gone out for dog licenses for 2010. Though some Knox County residents may have feared another increase after the large jump in rates from $10 in 2008 to $16 in 2009, no further increase was levied, according to county commissioner Allen Stockberger, because the formula which the Ohio Revised Code dictates the commissioners use to calculate rates did not require an increase.
The Ohio Revised Code, which is the code of laws for the entire state, dictates how many elements of animal licensing and caring must be handled, so that consistent processes are in place statewide. First, the ORC puts county commissioners in charge of fees for dog and kennel registrations. To do this, they must estimate how much it will cost in a year to pay for all the administrative expenses to run all support facilities, which in this case is the animal shelter on Columbus Road. These costs include records, tags, nets, other equipment; compensation of wardens, deputies, pound keepers and other necessary employees; the expenses incurred in lawfully seizing, impounding and destroying dogs; and the amounts expended by the auditor for registration tags, blanks, records and clerk’s salary for administering the licensing process.
The fees for licenses can only be increased in $2 amounts, according to the ORC, and can only be increased if the estimated expenses for the following year exceed projected revenues. The current Dog and Kennel Funds are projected to remain high enough to avoid any license increase in 2010.
Last year’s leap in fees was brought about because of the transition to a new facility. Costs were low at the old animal shelter earlier in this decade, and some excess funds remained in the Dog and Kennel Funds. Instead of dropping the license fees at that time, the commissioners opted to let the surplus ride, in hopes that this money would smooth the transition to the new facility already being proposed. This stabilized prices instead of reflecting volatile fee changes every year. Unfortunately, the surplus made the transition so smooth that many residents did not see the inevitable approach of higher fees needed to pay for the new facility once the cushion of extra money was depleted.
The 11,000-plus dog licenses sold per year in Knox County generate approximately $224,250 in revenue to cover the animal shelter’s budget. Any excess left in the Dog and Kennel Funds will be used for the purchase of equipment.
Some residents have questioned whether dog owners alone should be burdened with supporting animal control, when the handling of stray dogs is very much a public health issue, but as the current laws of the state dictate, dog owners must purchase the licenses which support the shelters. This cannot be changed in Knox County. Residents wishing to change this will have to provoke a change in state law.