Bluffdale contracts with county for animal services
Bluffdale started contracting with Salt Lake County Animal Services for its animal control in January. (Pixabay)
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When Bluffdale’s old method of animal control fell apart, the city council unanimously voted to start contracting those services through the Salt Lake County Animal Services on Dec. 14. The contract went into effect Jan. 1.
Both the city’s full-time employee and part-time employee in animal services left their positions for other opportunities, and South Jordan City, Bluffdale’s shelter partner, let Bluffdale officials know that the prior contract between the cities would no longer work for its plans moving forward.
“Bluffdale City has a history of being very cost-conscious,” Bluffdale Mayor Derk Timothy said. “Sometimes that leads us to contract outside and sometimes in-house depending on the service. “Cost played a role here.”
Bluffdale’s annual budget for the animal services and zoning code enforcement department last year was $124,500, including salaries and benefits for employees, supplies and the shelter contract with South Jordan. The city’s new cost for animal services with the county is $8,700 per month, amounting to $104,400 per year.
The cost for contracting with the county amounts to a wash, according to Grant Crowell, Bluffdale’s city planner and economic development director, because Bluffdale is keeping $20,000 in its budget to hire a part-time code enforcement employee since the animal services and zoning and code enforcement departments will no longer be merged.
“It’s about the same cost, but we believe we get an increased potential of service since the county’s operations are open 24/7, 365-day a year,” Crowell said. “Salt Lake County was already doing Herriman and Riverton’s animal service, so we seemed to fit.”
If the city would have continued providing its own animal services, city leaders would have needed to build an animal shelter, which would have been more than $1 million, according to Crowell.
“Because we’re in the process of building a city hall, and then we’re looking at building a fire station and hopefully a public works facility, it’s not in the budget for us to build an animal shelter,” Crowell said.
By law, a shelter requires an employee to be on duty whenever an animal is within the building. This would also cause increased costs, Timothy said.
Realizing the city couldn’t afford to build or mantain shelter, Crowell looked into partnering with Utah County cities such as Saratoga Springs but said Salt Lake County was the most budget-friendly and time-sensitive option.
“Right now, the reason we are going to contract is it is a much better price than we could do ourselves,” Timothy said. “I am not saying that the residents wouldn’t prefer paying more to have it in house, but as of right now, we have an 18-month contract to see how it goes.”
City administrative staff will monitor resident responses to the changes in animal control through a survey on the Bluffdale website. If responses are negative, city leaders will consider alternative options when the 18-month contract expires.
By joining Salt Lake County Animal Services, Bluffdale in now a no-kill community. This means healthy or treatable animals within the shelter they use will not be killed even if the shelter is full. The county’s services reserve euthanasia for terminally ill animals and those that are considered dangerous.
Callista Pearson, communication’s manager for the county’s animal services, said the county is “honored” to serve Bluffdale and confident that its service with suffice.
“Salt Lake County Animal Service is nationally recognized for its ability to expand services and programming to better serve the community,” she said. “We have over 60 personnel on staff, which includes 16 animal control office, animal behaviorists, full-time veterinary staff, animal care professionals and more.”
While the shelter for the county’s animal services is in Salt Lake City at 511 West 3900 South, some services are available online. Free and low-cost microchips and vaccinations are also available to Bluffdale residents now through a voucher program. For more information on services, visit adoptutahpets.com.
Residents can look forward to a vaccination and licensing clinic in Bluffdale on Feb. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon. The specific location has not been determined yet.