Hot on the heels of council’s ‘trailblazing’ decision to curtail future council rate rises so as to not exceed South Australia’s Consumer Price Index, Adelaide Plains Council opted against an increase in dog registration fees at its March meeting.
Against the strong recommendation of their CEO, James Miller, most councillors voted against the slight increase in dog registration fees, though not without a tense debate in the chamber, with a passionate speech from Marcus Strudwicke who supported the CEO’s position.
Mr Miller outlined the deficit that the council will incur if their dog and cat management operations were not subsidised by the proposed $5 per dog increase.
Currently, to register a dog in the Adelaide Plains Council area is a maximum of $50 per dog (concessions are available for microchipped and desexed dogs), however General Inspector services in the APC are not being covered and require further funding.
“At present the maximum cap for dog registration fees sits at $85,” Mr Miller explained, “neighbouring councils charge, which is often like for like comparisons, Playford $65, Light $65, Wakefield $70 and Town of Gawler $75.
“So what’s been suggested here is a moderate increase.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of pressure put on any increase to rates, and indeed the recent resolution adopted this evening is going to put the framework around that, so this is one avenue that we can quite likely make a slight increase to dog registration fees to partially claw back, pardon the pun, some of the expenditure in terms of labour resource.”
Councillor Anne Picard was the first to speak up on the motion.
“I’m not going to support any increase in dog registration fees”, she said.
“Part of the area of Lewiston was set up for dogs and horses.
“There’s quite a few people that have actually moved into the area because they can have more dogs than in the city, and I think we should be seen as a dog-friendly council.
“I know you need the extra money but most people that I know object strongly to the dog registration fees that they have to pay.”
Cr Strudwicke then made a point that dog and cat keeping should be a user-pay service, just as it is for waste management and the CWMS scheme.
“We are running at a deficit, as the CEO has said, and we are not covering the costs of the maintenance of that system and there is no reason that all of our ratepayers should be bearing that burden,” he stated.
“I think it’s total hypocrisy.
“We talk about the burden on our ratepayers and here we’ve got some councillors who are in no doubt going to vote that we should increase the burden on ratepayers that aren’t dog keepers because those that are dog keepers deserve some special treatment.
“I find it hypocritical and that’s why I move the motion,” he finished emphatically.
Cr Jones did not support an increase in dog registration fees, as although he understood Cr Strudwicke’s position, he considers ‘having a dog part of the
family’. “Quite often you see when it comes round to dog registration there are more dogs in the pound,” he said.
Cr McColl also did not support an increase in fees and moved to have a report brought back to council investigating the possibility of cat registration to potentially increase lost revenue from the decision.
“We do have a feral cat issue in our area, and I think one way to have more control over cats is to introduce registration of them,” she said.
Cr Picard supported Cr McColl’s motion, as did Cr Jones. Cr Strudwicke once again voiced his frustration at the philosophy adopted by the majority of councillors in the chamber.
“Given that we are not increasing our fees which means we don’t have money currently available to replace our inspector services, isn’t it a bit foolhardy to be then looking at increasing the number of animals that we have to manage through including cats, which are unlikely to bring much revenue to council?” he said.