Some Erie County taxpayers might howl and whimper if they realized the financial hits one county department could face in the near future.
The Erie County Dog Pound’s long-term financial outlook shows the department with a $190,000 deficit from now through 2017, according to financial documents. Officials projected the shortfall mainly because the dogs warden’s expenses could soon skyrocket, jumping from about $258,000 in recent years to about $321,000 a year from 2013 through 2017.
Erie County administrator Pete Daniel, who oversees the county’s finances, attributed the cost increase to staffing levels as well as:
• Replacing a $32,000 vehicle later this year.
• Upgrading the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system for $14,000 in 2014.
• Replacing a $27,000 vehicle in 2015.
• A jump in insurance costs.
“Anytime you have a department going in the red, it sends up a flag,” Erie County commissioner Bill Monaghan said. “You have to take a real close look at what that department is doing and how it’s being run.”
Erie County Dog Warden Barb Knapp said she plans to find ways to reduce the deficit each year through 2017. Monaghan voiced support for her, pointing out the prudent spending in her department in years past. Among the cost-cutting measures Knapp plans to implement: cutting hours for part-time workers. She also plans to tackle more jobs herself, such as cleaning kennels.
Knapp said she’s not raising the $18 annual fee for dog tag registrations in Erie County. There are about 14,300 dogs registered in Erie County. “A $2 increase on a dog tag nets me about $24,000, and that’s not even enough to replace a vehicle,” Knapp said.
Dog tag sales represent about 95 percent of the dog pound’s revenue. The dog warden’s annual income level should remain flat in the coming years, at about $282,000 to $286,000.
The county dog pound also has about $580,000 in outstanding debt payments. Without adding any new debt, this amount won’t be paid off in full until 2027.