The Bellevue City Council agreed last Thursday to pay a requested flat rate of $4,000 for animal shelter services for the upcoming fiscal year, overturning a previous decision to budget only $3,000 to cover the costs of impounding dogs from the city.
The shelter makes annual requests to Blaine County and all cities in the Wood River Valley to help pay for its "no-kill" facility west of Hailey. The private nonprofit organization also relies heavily on private donations to make ends meet, as well as proceeds from the Barkin' Basement thrift store in Hailey.
The decision to pay the full request was made after Jo-Anne Dixon, executive director of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, presented a strong case for the city's contribution.
Dixon told the council that the shelter had spent $4,000 last year for Bellevue's portion of its free spay and neutering program alone. Thousands more were spent impounding dogs from the city, many of which were never claimed.
"This is not something we have to provide, but it is something your city has come to expect," Dixon said.
It was Dixon's second appearance before the council in recent weeks. She pointed out that two years ago, Bellevue paid only $2,000 of the $5,100 in costs that the shelter incurred to provide services for animals from the town.
Bellevue officials have long suspected that people from around southern Idaho abandon their animals in the town because they know they will not be euthanized at the Wood River Valley shelter.
Only Councilman Larry Plott voted not to fund the full amount. Plott and City Council Chair David Hattula had suggested that Dixon charge the city only for the exact amount of shelter services the city incurs over the next year.
"Every other municipality pays a flat fee and they don't think they are being taken," Dixon said.
She added that the $4,000 request was not negotiable and that the city of Bellevue could come forward with a plan of its own to provide shelter services if it wanted to.
The council acquiesced, agreeing to Dixon's full request.
"We need your services and we need to work with you," Hattula said.
Last year, the animal shelter raised more than $300,000 at its annual "Dog Days of Summer" benefit, dinner and auction, which attracted about 340 people.
According to information provided by the shelter, this year's benefit, held last week, raised more funding than in 2010, though a tally has not been completed.
Tony Evans: email@example.com