Newell willing to reconsider city dog tax

PARKERSBURG – Mayor Bob Newell said he would be open to the possibility of asking city council to reinstate the additional $3 dog tax within the city, but the county commission would have to make some concessions first.

The county is required by code to provide animal control services and contracts with the humane society for those services. The current contract expires June 30. After the commission refused to grant a request for a 10 percent increase to the $271,000-plus annual humane society contract, the society announced it would eliminate its humane officer jobs. The commission is looking at successful options in other counties to model here.

The city earlier canceled its contract with the society, and the county picked up the costs for the city. Part of the funding to pay for the contract comes from the county’s $3 dog tax. Residents in the county pay $3, residents in the cities of Vienna and Williamstown pay the county fee plus an additional $3 respectively, for a total of $6, with those funds going to animal control expenses within their city limits. Dogs six months of age and older are required to have an annually renewed dog license.

Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said the city of Parkersburg dropped its additional $3 dog tax about a year ago.

“I was contacted by (county commission president) Wayne Dunn recently and asked if I would consider asking city council to reinstate the fee, to help the county cover some of its animal control costs, and I’m willing to consider it, but it has to go through a process. It goes to city council and they make the final decision. The county commission would also have to be willing to have an agreement, in writing, that it would not hold the city responsible for animal control enforcement in the city. The last time this was discussed, they refused, but that would have to be done before we would even consider it again,” the mayor said.

The mayor is referring to a state attorney general’s opinion which says if a city has an additional dog tax, the city must accept the additional enforcement that goes along with it.

During a recent commission meeting, Dunn mentioned the possibility that Newell might ask council to reconsider the issue. No date was given when it might occur.

The mayor said the council’s next meeting this month is set for April 16, and any such proposal would have to go through a process of more than one reading and a public hearing process similar to the budget.

Shaffer told Dunn earlier in order for him to get such information on the personal property assessment forms, which go out of his office, he would have to have the information by or before April 30 in order for it to be assessed in the 2013 tax year.

The mayor said while he’s open to the possibility of making such a proposal, the commission would have to be willing to sign the agreement, and at this point, it appeared time was running out for this year.

The city did earlier turn over some funding that had been collected earlier from their dog tax to the county to help cover the additional costs incurred by the county in covering the city as well as the county.

“We tried to do the agreement before but the commission refused, the county commission would have to more cooperative for it to happen,” Newell said.

“Any additional fees collected have to be used for animal control,” Shaffer said. “Either way, we will include an explanation for the taxpayers on the fees to clarify what is going on because we want to make sure people are sending in the right amount of tax.”