|© Mark Bialek|
Hard times make for hard choices.
When jobs are lost and family income drops, it can force parents to choose between feeding their kids or their pets. And when property tax income drops and state revenue sharing all but disappears, that can force Washtenaw County to choose between supporting human services or the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV).
It's with this backdrop that county commissioners voted in November to eliminate their $500,000 annual payment to HSHV. The next two-year budget transfers half that amount--$250,000--to "animal control"--which may or may not be done by the humane society.
"We don't want to do it, but you have to look at the big picture," says Rob Turner (R-Chelsea). "We're having to cut $17 million out of a $100 million budget." The budget cut payments to outside groups in half, including those providing human services (see "Retiring Champions," p. 33). "Even the Delonis Center got cut 75 percent," says Turner, "and that's one of the most necessary human services organizations in the county.
"All of us would love to hold harmless all these organizations," continues Turner, "but we can't do that. We're cutting everybody, and if we're going to give someone additional funding, it's got to come from somebody else. We all care for animals, but we have to balance the needs of human society and the needs of animals."
That's not the way Tanya Hilgendorf, the humane society's executive director, sees it. "We're not talking about discretionary money that comes out of the general fund but money for a statutory obligation. Animal control is a mandatory service for the county, not a gift to a nonprofit. If we didn't do it, the county still would have to do it. And it would cost them a heck of a lot more than half a million dollars a year."
The humane society has had a contract to provide animal control for the county since 1944, "and every year there's been a conflict," says Hilgendorf. After
Government, business, environment, the U-M, and more.>> Blogs