City News

It’s been eight years since the cost to license a dog in Sedona was last raised.

That will soon change.

The increase was one of several items discussed and approved regarding the Humane Society of Sedona during the Tuesday, Aug. 8, Sedona City Council meeting.

The main purpose of the discussion was to approve a one-year service contract with the humane society in the amount of $49,895.

It had requested $57,000 but a review committee recommended the amount approved by council. The contract was approved by a 5-1 vote.

Councilman John Currivan voted against it while Vice Mayor John Martinez was excused from the meeting.

According to a city report, the purpose of the agreement is to contribute toward the humane society’s expenses to receive and house stray dogs and cats received from the city’s enforcement officer and residents of the city. In addition, it’s to receive and house other dogs and cats taken into custody by the city for emergency boarding purposes only.

Emergency boarding refers to animals taken by the Sedona Police Department when someone is arrested, hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated.

Currivan’s bone of contention was in regard to the new licensing fees and the fact that there is no discount for senior citizens as there has been in the past. Fees for dog licensing have increased from $7.50 to $10 for an annual license and $25 for a three-year license. Seniors were paying $5 and will now pay the full $10.

“My main problem is the decision to abolish senior discounts,” he said. “It seems to me that’s something that shouldn’t be buried in a consent agenda but something that’s discussed by the City Council because it’s a policy issue. Granted, these numbers are not big to a lot of people in Sedona but there are other people who might actually feel the difference.”

Humane Society Director Austin Gates said the main purpose of charging a licensing fee is to ensure each of those dogs have been vaccinated against rabies.

While she didn’t have the exact number, she said they have at least a couple thousand license renewals every year. Gates did a survey of nine cities and counties in the area and Sedona’s $7.50 rate was the lowest and only Cottonwood offered a senior discount.

She tallied the costs of the nine cities and counties and the average of those was around $10. She added that she doesn’t anticipate any additional fee increases for at least the next five years.

Councilman Jon Thompson said in terms of deciding fees, that should be handled by the Humane Society of Sedona.

“We are often criticized for government overreach or something similar,” he said. “I want to point out that this is a separate organization that we are contracting with to provide a service that the city may otherwise be forced to do some other way. I’m perfectly happy with the humane society setting its rates. I don’t think we should be nitpicking on the individual cost of things. Let’s stay out of this business, cut this contract and get it over with.”

In addition to the service contract, council voted unanimously to additions and deletions to the city code in regard to the humane society. New wording to the city code includes:

  • Dog licensing options have been expanded to allow owners to purchase either a one-year or a multi-year license.
  • Fees for dog licensing have previously been set through the city code, but are now proposed to be set through the service agreement with the humane society. The agreement is easier to periodically modify as necessary when rates need adjusting and it has been the city’s recent practice to remove the reference to specific fee amounts from the city code.

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