ZEPHYRHILLS — City officials are exploring the possibility of breaking away from Pasco County Animal Services and hiring their own employee to deal with stray, abandoned or runaway pets.
The question is: Can they do it cost effectively?
City Manager Steve Spina said the city has looked into breaking away from county animal control but could not find a way to save.
"All the cities are in it with the county because there's no alternative," Spina told the City Council on Monday evening. "That's where we are."
The city pays $60,000 a year to the county for animal services. Council member Manny Funes said the city could hire Tim Wilcox — under contract to capture chickens and wild animals for the city — to handle the other animals for about half that price.
Funes said he has fielded complaints from residents about poor service from the county. He said Wilcox's record makes him a good candidate for the position.
"Tim Wilcox fits this description," Funes said. "He is trained and educated and has the skills to do this job."
Spina said the city has to hire employees through set procedures and must comply with the state's statutes regarding animal control, including the need for backup support, a kennel and a veterinarian to handle cases involving euthanasia.
Spina also said certification and training would be necessary.
Wilcox said he is already certified for animal captures, including handling dangerous and possibly diseased animals. He also said he's willing to build a kennel on his property for containment.
The council voted unanimously to seek more information on the possibility of providing its own animal services.
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In other news Monday, the council approved plans to resurface a number of city streets and make drainage modifications downtown.
The city unanimously approved a bid from the Lane Construction Corp. to resurface eight street sections and parking facilities for about $279,000.
The city had budgeted $375,000 for this type of roadwork in the 2008-09 budget.
Shane LeBlanc, the public works superintendent, said the city will save money from putting the services out to bid instead of piggybacking on the county's bids.
The council also unanimously approved paying the LPA Group Inc. about $48,000 to increase the volume and modify the pumps for the stormwater pond next to City Hall and the downtown fire station to decrease the chances of future flooding.