Fee for humane society not waived

PARKERSBURG – The city of Parkersburg refused to waive a $2,200 building permit fee for the humane society’s planned spay and neuter clinic.

The ordinance died on first reading by a vote of 4-5 at Tuesday’s council meeting. Two of the ordinance’s sponsors, John Rockhold and Roger Brown, were among the five who voted against it. The other three were Kim Coram, J.R. Carpenter and John Kelly.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Bob Newell in his executive address had urged council to approve the ordinance, saying the spay and neuter clinic was a step toward “true animal control” for the city.

“At the end of the day, the clinic needs to be built; it needs to be done,” he said. “That is true animal control, which is what we have been asking from the humane society.”

Council had not had a public discussion prior to the vote, with the exception of Rockhold asking if any representatives of the humane society were present at Tuesday’s meeting. Newell said no one was in attendance, but he had not requested they attend.

“I didn’t think it was necessary,” Newell said.

Rockhold said Thursday while he was in favor of waiving the fee, he voted against the motion because he believed it did not have enough support from council to get through two readings.

Rockhold said in conversations with council members, he believed there were too many questions left unanswered by the humane association.

“I had some questions and I tried to find responses to them and answers to them, as did other council members,” he said. “The one response we got via email raises more questions.”

Rockhold said he also was influenced by the fact no one from the humane society attended the meeting to answer those questions.

“I don’t expect anyone to come before us hat in hand,” he said. “To me, if someone is offering us $2,200, I would have been there at that meeting.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that it didn’t pass, and I’m extremely disappointed in the reasoning, if there is any, that it didn’t pass,” Newell said Thursday.

Council “had the opportunity to ask all the questions they wanted to ask, but the issue was simple: We were not funding the society, we were waiving a fee for a building permit on a much-needed facility and we’ve done this for other entities,” Newell said. “They had the opportunity to do the right thing and they didn’t do it.”

Maryann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, said Thursday the society’s response was much simpler.

“We appreciate them even considering the request,” she said.

Hollis said she and other society administrators were unaware the vote had occurred until they were contacted by local media. Hollis said paying the fee would not affect construction or the timeline for the facility, which is expected to break ground April 17.