PORT RICHEY — The SPCA has terminated its contract with Port Richey after housing the city's injured and sick animals for 12 years.
The SPCA sent the city a letter last month saying it can't renew the city's contract because of "financial constraints."
Port Richey officials say they will most likely sign a contract with Pasco County Animal Services after the SPCA contract expires Aug. 8. The city has paid the SPCA $6,780 since last October.
Martha Murray, executive director of the SPCA, said a $50,000 shortfall in the $530,000 operating budget forced her organization to eliminate 15 positions from October to December.
Even after cutting positions, Murray, who sent the letter to Port Richey officials, said the organization is operating on a $10,000 deficit.
"I wanted to let them know that because of cuts in staff, we couldn't do the contract service justice," Murray said.
Rising costs of electric bills, salaries and care for sick animals, along with declining contributions, contributed to the money woes, Murray said.
Two months ago, the SPCA canceled its $35,000 animal control contract with New Port Richey, saying the funds didn't cover the costs of taking in strays and abused animals. SPCA officials said they would need $168,000 to do the job.
Rather than accept the SPCA offer, New Port Richey signed a contract with Pasco County Animal Services: The cost: $75,000.
Adey Reyes, the county's director of community services, said she spoke with Richard Reade, Port Richey city manager, about the city starting a contract with Pasco County, but said nothing has been solidified yet.
Mayor Richard Rober said he was satisfied with the SPCA contract.
"I feel bad, because they've been pretty good to us," he said. "It's the wrong time to see an organization like that have financial difficulties."
Camille C. Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.