Reichert re-emphasizes city's plan to stop taking in Bibb's stray pets

Mayor Robert Reichert says he regrets that Bibb commissioners were offended by plans to charge the county more money for dogs and cats brought to Macon's animal shelter.

But that doesn't change the fact that come Oct. 15, county officers' ability to take stray pets to the facility will be cut off unless commissioners agree to the price increase. Reichert's office released a statement on the matter Wednesday after county commissioners, upset with the "take it or leave it" attitude of the city, took no action on the plan at their meeting the night before.

"This is (the mayor) trying to put clarification on what the city's position is and what the city's stance is," said Andrew Blascovich, Reichert's director of external affairs. "'Cause right now, the county commission is trying to spin it."

The city has decided to raise its animal drop-off fee from $15 to $35. The charge has remained at $15 "for well over a decade," the statement from Reichert's office says, despite an increase over the years in the actual cost of feeding and caring for stray animals.

Commissioners have said they were taken off guard by the request for more money. They also argue that any fee change should be part of the overall service delivery strategy agreement between Macon and Bibb County.

Negotiations to update that agreement have not yet taken place.

City officials say while current service delivery agreements address responsibility for animal control, they do not discuss pricing.

And the requested increase should come as no surprise, according to the mayor's statement: Macon first signaled its need for new revenue in July in a separate contract on animal control services, but commissioners ignored the proposal and offered no alternatives.

Blascovich said Mike Anthony, Macon's interim chief administrative officer, also has made several phone calls to the county's CAO but has yet to hear back from him.

City officials compare their plans for higher fees to past occasions when the county has raised the price it charges Macon for taking accused criminals to the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center. Just like in that situation, the city is simply trying to recover its costs, said Keith Moffett, Reichert's director for internal affairs.

Macon simply can no longer afford to care for animals brought by the county unless they pay more, Moffett said.

"It's not an ultimatum," he said. "It's just a statement of facts."