Kimberley City Council discusses amending structure for dog licenses

Pro-rated fee options for new dog licenses to be included in Animal Control Bylaw.

At a past City Council Meeting, Councillor Bev Middlebrook inquired about the possibility of changing the current structure for dog licensing after hearing several requests from Kimberley dog owners.

The inquiry was to allow for the renewal of dog licenses on the anniversary of the first license purchased, rather than the term of the license being the calendar year of January 1 to December 1.

For example, if someone moves to town or gets a dog in September, they must pay for a dog license at that time, and then pay again in January of the following year.

Executive Assistant, Nicole Thurman recently submitted a report to Council, stating that the current software that City Hall uses will not accommodate license renewals on variable dates.

“Therefore, changing to this fee structure would require staff to manually diarize multiple renewal dates on a spreadsheet which would not be an efficient use of staff time,” said the report.

The report went on to say that in January of 2018, staff sent out 832 renewal letters to residents, along with 250 reminder notices sent out in February.

“To complete the process with several renewal dates, the spreadsheet would require daily monitoring, and renewal letter would need to be mailed at various times throughout the year,” said the report. “The Finance Department has estimated this could require as much as one hour of staff time per day, equating to approximately 260 hours of staff time per year. Financial and administratively, changing this process is not practical.”

Council was presented with two options however, both of which require an amendment to the City’s Animal Control Bylaw. The options are as follows: pro-rate the cost of new dog licences when purchased part way through the year, or, reduce the costs for dog owners purchasing a license part way through the year with a full-year fee and a half-year fee.

The report states that this could reduce the already minimal amount of revenue that the City collects on dog licenses, and that changing the current structure is not recommended.

Council discussed the findings at a Regular City Council Meeting on Monday, Feb. 26.

“Current dog owners are required to buy a dog license by the end of January,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “I don’t think what we want here is to get into a situation where somebody [continually] defers getting a license, finally gets around to it in July, and then gets a break on the cost.”

Middlebrook agreed that some may procrastinate, but she says that most people want their animals to be safe and therefore licensed.

“It might be nice to pro-rate it half-way through the year for people who are just getting a dog,” said Middlebrook.

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“[Out of the 832 licensed dogs] it would be fair to say that maybe only 25 of them are new dogs, so pro-rating for 25 isn’t really going to affect things that much, whereas everyone else is on their regular, annual cycle,” said Councillor Sandra Roberts. “If I was a dog owner, I would prefer to see that pro-rating in place. If it’s only two a month, it’s not that big of a deal.”

Councillor Kent Goodwin agreed, saying that pro-rating makes sense.

“If that involves a whole revision of the bylaw [however], it would be nice if we could just administratively deal with it for now, and the next time we have a need to do the bylaw, we can make that change,” said Goodwin.

Corporate Officer, Maryse Leroux says it would not be difficult for staff to amend the bylaw to make those changes. Council voted unanimously to receive the report, while also directing staff to amend the City of Kimberley Animal Control Bylaw to include pro-rated fee options for new dog licences.

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