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New Contract or We're Done

humane society

The gloves are off when it comes to the contract negotiations with the city of Moose Jaw.   After telling you that the city was going to put out a Request for Proposals for animal control, we've learned the Humane Society, who currently hold the contract, has given the city an ultimatum.

Give us a fair contract by the end of the year or we're done.

Board President John LaBuick explains their contract with the city started at just over $100,000 a year for pound services and has increase with inflation over the last six years to about $118,000.

"Go back to 2007 and look at your bills. Look at what it cost you for gas in 2007, just for your vehicle, look at your water bill, look at your sewer bill. By city council's own admission, some of those have gone up by 90%. We're paying that increase!"

LaBuick says the current contract doesn't even come close to covering the animals they deal with each year on behalf of the city and the previous board that signed the contract knew that when they entered into it, but he says they didn't really have a choice. He recognizes that they offer services that are not in the contract but they're not asking for the city to cover that, saying they'll fundraise for shelter costs.  They just need the city to cover the actual expenses for 365 days of animal control.

LaBuick was shocked to hear the news Tuesday morning when we brought you the story first, saying he would have liked a heads up from the city but it speaks to the way negotiations have gone. He says they've made offers, provided new budget information and have taken part in several meetings but the city's negotiating team haven't come back with as much as a counter offer, simply saying ''We'll get back to you."

The Humane Society has been without a contract for over a year and LaBuick says they won't continue to work under an outdated deal that doesn't cover what they city expects them to do. December 31st, their phones will go dead.

"We can't do this at this rate next year because it's breaking the Humane Society. We're having to dip into our savings funds every year to cough up extra money to pay down our debt because we don't have enough money coming in."

In our story on Tuesday, Councillor Don Mitchell explained the city wanted to find out exactly what the costs are associated with the animal control services provided by the Humane Society, saying it was hard to separate them from the shelter services offered. Mitchell made the motion for a Request for Proposals after a closed door meeting Monday night that was eventually supported by the majority of council.

He said an RFP would hopefully lay it all out in black and white, helping to determine exactly what services the city needs and what should be covered by the city contract while also determining what services are extra, falling under the shelter umbrella and covered by fundraising.

LaBuick says they've provided those details but nothing else has happened. He says they'll work on an RFP and show exactly what they think the costs are for animal control saying it's not as simple as picking up Fido, putting him in a cage with some kibble for three days.  Staff need provincially regulated training, the animals need access to a veterinarian and medication according to provincial laws. Items that cost money and so, they have no alternative but to walk away.

"We're serious. At 12:01am on January 1st, I guess you call City Hall. We will not be taking it on. If this contract is not resolved, we will not be answering the phones as of January 1st. We can't."

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