Monday, June 06, 2011

Working Together

We agree with the concept expressed in this recent editorial from the Sacramento Bee, that local governments, working together, can resolve some of the current funding issues impacting valuable public works.

Though the editorial focused on animal shelters, it is also a valuable strategy for parks, and from our point of view, most easily adapted for the region’s signature park, the American River Parkway.

A Joint Powers Authority, which has been discussed by the County, to manage and help fund the Parkway—through philanthropy rather than tax increases—is an excellent idea, and more details can be found on our website's strategy page.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“Can Sacramento city and county leaders actually make good on a common-sense move to save money and offer better service?

“We're about to find out, and the answer will set an important precedent.

“Officials from the city, county and Sacramento SPCA plan to start detailed talks this week about the nonprofit taking over the city and county animal shelters.

“The potential payoff to all three could be significant.

“SPCA leaders are interested after a consultant told them that such a merger could "dramatically enhance" care for animals in the county. Fewer dogs, cats and other animals would be euthanized, and more would be adopted.

“Meanwhile, city and county officials are trying to escape from a downward spiral in their animal care agencies. Budget and staffing cuts during the recession have forced shorter hours and fewer services, and there's little reason to expect much improvement soon.

“After slashing $1 million and 10 positions since 2007-08, the city's proposed 2011-12 budget calls for trimming another $157,000 (to $2.9 million) and 1.5 positions (to 31.5). The county's proposed 2011-12 spending plan would keep animal care stable at $3.7 million and 29 positions, but that's down from $5.1 million and 33 positions two years ago.

“Consolidation wouldn't end government's duties altogether; the city and county would continue picking up stray and injured animals, for instance. Now, about 45,000 animals come into the three shelters combined each year.

“The county boasts a state-of-the-art, $23 million shelter that opened in October 2009, while the city shelter has a very nice cat adoption area.

“It's possible that one of the three shelters might be closed eventually, or turned into a holding facility while the others focus on adoptions.

“All those sorts of details need to be worked out. The transition would be complicated – far more so than the SPCA's contracts with Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom and Rancho Cordova.”