City weighs contract renewal cost against alternative solutions.
By Galen Patterson
The Pasadena Humane Society (PHS) is charging the City of Arcadia roughly $525,000 for a contract renewal in 2020. Previously, Arcadia paid around $90,000 for PHS’s services. The reason for the contract increase is to adjust the cost of services in Arcadia, PHS told Arcadia Weekly.
According to PHS, the contract cost of services has not been updated in the decades since the organization began servicing Arcadia and the services they provide have improved and expanded since then.
In the early ’90s, animal control functioned with basic services, like dog catching and animal removal. Back then, if animals were captured, they were kept for a few days and put up for adoption. If they were not claimed, they were euthanized, said PHS.
Over time, PHS began to expand its services by vaccinating the animals, no longer euthanizing them, boarding them, actively seeking homes for them, educating the communities on all types of animals and more.
“Animal welfare has changed dramatically,” said Jack Hagerman, vice president of communications for PHS.
The change in cost came about when PHS hired an accounting firm to look into their finances in 2017. The report from the accounting firm came back in late 2018, detailing the actual cost of services to the cities PHS contracts with.
The animal control contract with Arcadia expires on June 30, 2020. Since the accountant’s report came back at the end of last year, Arcadia’s cost increase is going up rapidly because 2020 will be the first available opportunity to do so.
The other cities PHS services will most likely face a similar increase of cost, but they will not be introduced until their contracts are up for renewal.
The City of Pasadena confirms that their rates have not gone up yet, but a representative of the city placed a heavy emphasis on “yet.”
Currently, La Cañada and Bradbury find themselves under the same circumstances as Arcadia. According to PHS, both La Cañada and Bradbury have already signed their new contracts with PHS, which leaves Arcadia with the burden to concoct the cost of pursuing a different agency or starting their own animal control unit, and weighing the cost against the cost of services from PHS.
One of the concerns Arcadia City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto has is why PHS is not gradually increasing the cost of services, instead of the massive jump in one year. PHS says the cost of services is not going to be covered by the new contract yet, and that the future contracts will continue to increase in price until it reaches the actual cost of services.
“We will never make a profit from animal control,” said Hagerman. Costs include things like the fleet of vehicles, staff, equipment and benefits for the staff that service Arcadia.
PHS says they rely on donations from the community to fund their operations. Since they have not been increasing their cost of services, the animal control cost for Arcadia and cities in the same situation have been covered by the funding that has been gathered by donations.
“It’s not fair to our donors,” said Hagerman.
What Arcadia would be paying for with the new contract is the same as what they had been paying for previously. The reasons PHS cites for the new cost are the expanded role they play in the San Gabriel Valley and a basic cost of living and operations adjustment.
City Manager Lazzaretto says the city is currently looking into other options to weigh the cost against the new contract.