Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Havre City Council passes budget, approves pet ordinances


August 22, 2017

Havre City Council voted 7 to 0, with one absence, Monday to approve the city’s $18.7 million preliminary budget during the council’s meeting.

Council member Karen Swenson was excused.

City Clerk/Finance Director Doug Kaercher said the proposed budget is “pretty lean” and is only about $17,000 more than last years’.

“We move things around to make them work from year to year so when we have needs in certain areas we make it work,” Kaercher said.

Kaercher said the preliminary draft budget has an appropriation roughly a million dollars less than last year, and that is because the Bullhook project is closer to completion so that money was not allocated.

“We move things around to make them work from year to year so when we have needs in certain areas we make it work,” Kaercher said.

A date for a public hearing on the budget was not set.

Havre City Judge Virginia Siegel addressed City Council during the public comment period for regular agenda items, and raised concerns about two proposed ordinances pertaining to how animals are kept within city limits.

Council passed both ordinances 7 to 0 on second reading following the public comment section.

One requires that a dog kept outside must have access to a shelter of a dog house made of durable material with a floor that is either moisture proof or raised at least 2 inches off the ground. Between Nov. 1, and Mar. 31, the shelter must also have a windbreak at the entrance.

The other sets policy that if an animal six months of age or older is found running at large twice within a year, the animal’s owner will be required to buy a spay or neuter certificate when the animal is reclaimed. The proposal says the certificate would be redeemable for 30 days at a veterinarian of the owner’s choice.

If the animal is still not spayed or neutered and is caught loose for either a third time within a 12-month period or a fifth time within the span of its life, the animal will be transported for spay or neuter to a veterinarian of the animal owner’s choice. The owner would then have to pay all veterinarian and impound fees before the animal is released

City Council President Andrew Brekke said both were modeled after ordinances on the books in Missoula.

Siegel said state law already has requirements that owners provide proper shelter for animals, so they are not subjected to inhumane treatment or weather that could result in injury.

She said that last year three citations were issued in City Court for someone who left their animal outside.

One citation was dismissed by city prosecutor and the others were subject to deferred prosecution, where the defendants pled not guilty and the cases were not adjudicated but deferred, Siegel said. She said if the defendants are not issued subsequent citations the case will be dismissed.

Siegel said she worried it would take discretion away from law enforcement and could end up costing taxpayers more money.

“Are we answering a real problem? And what I can tell you is, based on the citations from the court, we are not tackling a problem in this city,” Siegel said.

She also said few citations were issued last year for animals at large.

Brekke said Siegel raised some genuine concerns, but animal control Officer Pete Federspiel had approached the ordinance committee and they began researching options so Federspiel can have more tools at his disposal to address what he saw as problems.

Of the options he saw throughout Montana, Brekke said, Federspiel felt the ordinances adopted by Missoula was the most effective.

Brekke said Federspiel thought the current statute did not go far enough in defining shelter. The state statute says that an animal must be provided adequate shelter but does not say what that means.

Grekke said the ordinance committee checked with the city prosecutor who was fine with it.

Brekke said that when it comes to the animals running loose, Federspiel did not feel the existing statute was sufficient enough to write more citations.

“We have a really good animal control officer and I think that law enforcement needs to have the tools at its disposal, and if they approach us with something that seems reasonable, it is incumbent upon us to look at that,” Brekke said.

The council voted 7 to 0 to confirm probationary Officer Rachel Cotton as a patrol officer with the Havre Police Department.


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