Towards the end of a very long and crowded agenda on Monday, June 10, the approval of a second Animal Services Officer got the votes from the council. Many factors made the difference, but none more than the rising cost of outsourcing the extra hours.
The addition of a second officer for Animal Services was an item that had been considered multiple times in the years since the position was created. While there are pet licensing laws in place in Culver City, they are largely overlooked by pet owners. The licensing fees that are supposed to fund Animal Services are not there, and the staff time to enforce those rules is spent doing the work of Animal Services – everything from wrangling a dangerous stray to removing roadkill. The upsurge in wildlife problems – mostly coyotes – has taxed Officer Fleeger’s ability to anything more than keep up with her most important priority; public safety.
When Officer Fleeger was initially hired, it was a result of the community dissatisfaction with how Los Angeles County handled Animal Services. While LA County still covering the hours when CCPD does not have Animal Services available, county fees are poised to increase radically.
Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells noted that “The cost of an additional officer is noted here as being $72,360. The fees from LA County from last year, from fiscal 2018-2019, for additional services were $38,347, and this coming year are scheduled to jump to $82,476, and then the year after that to jump up to $86,176. So if the cost of poor service from the county is less than the cost of adding another officer, I don’t see how we are losing [by hiring additional staff].”
The vote passed on a 3-1-1, with Sahli -Wells, Fisch and Lee voting yes, Eriksson voting no and Small abstaining.