OTTUMWA — Dog owners in Ottumwa will see an increase in the cost of dog licenses next year as part of a move to boost funding for Heartland Humane Society.
The city licenses will increase by $5 per dog beginning in 2020. Heartland approached the city earlier this year about the possibility of additional funding, but the decision was not formally made until Wednesday.
City Attorney Joni Keith said Heartland serves as the city’s animal shelter, taking in animals picked up by police and animal control. “To assist in the funding of the operations of the shelter, staff is recommending fees for dog licenses be increased by $5,” she said.
Keith noted the fee of $10 for each spayed or neutered dog or $20 for each one that is not spayed or neutered, is considerably less than the $75 fine for failure to license a dog. When court costs and fees are added to the fine, the bill tops $100 — and the owner must still get a license.
Councilwoman Holly Berg asked about the license fees in relation to other cities. Keith replied they are “generally much lower than cities of comparable size around the state.”
Ottumwans license about 2,000 dogs per year, so the increase will raise $10,000 or so for Heartland. Berg supported the increase, saying the city needs to “make sure Heartland Humane Society remains operational.”
The increase was originally part of last week’s council agenda, but was removed to ensure all parties involved were on the same page. Keith said earlier Wednesday the city was under a little bit of pressure to get the work done because of the approaching Jan. 1 date for license renewals.
Wednesday’s meeting took a scant nine minutes from start to finish, and featured a bare quorum for council sessions. Two members, Marc Roe and Victor Streeby, were absent, leaving the council with three members in attendance.