Many of you have heard our call to action and have written the Metro Council – the animals thank you! We know many of you are receiving responses from Council members, assuring you that, with the passage of this bill, the Council still retains final approval of the Metro Public Health Department’s fee schedule and the dog license fee.
Because there seems to be some misdirection coming to Council members in the form of emails from the Department of Health, we feel the need to provide further clarification…
The dog license fee (which, as we all know, is essentially a tax paid by only responsible dog owners) is $4 per dog, as explicitly indicated in the Metro Code. If the Council wishes to increase the fee, it would need to pass an ordinance (3 readings, requiring 3 votes). We responsible dog owners are given more than 6 weeks (from the release of the first agenda to the third vote) to learn of the proposed increase and contact our duly elected representatives to express approval or disapproval. This is a fair, transparent process.
Unrelated to the license fee, the Department of Health drafts its own fee schedule (for boarding fees, adoption fees, etc. – – – fees NOT levied on every dog owner), which passes before the Board of Health and then to the Council for adoption by resolution (requiring 1 vote). The Council does NOT have the power to amend the fee schedule document – it can merely vote to approve or disapprove it. If the Council disapproves the fee schedule, it would then go back to the Department to be amended, then before the Board of Health, and back to the Council.
In short, what does this mean?
- If this bill passes, the dog license fee will no longer be part of the Metro Code, and the Department of Health, not the Council, will originate all proposed increases.
- It will take 1 vote from the Council – not 3 – to make such increases effective.
- Because the fee schedule is an attachment included in the full agenda analysis provided only to Council members, we would never see it unless we requested a copy of this analysis from the Council office. In other words, under this new process, it’s likely we responsible dog owners would never know a fee increase was being proposed.
- Especially considering the Board of Health meets only monthly, it’s completely unrealistic to expect the Council would vote to reject the Department’s fee schedule and hold up the entire budget approval process.
- This new process lacks transparency AND Council oversight.
If anyone tells you that you don’t have your facts straight, let them know that’s not the case. Knowledge is power.
Keep writing – firstname.lastname@example.org!