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Published: 8/20/2003

Dog warden wants $5 license fee boost

A dog license may get more expensive in Lucas County.

Tom Skeldon, county dog warden, asked the county commissioners yesterday to raise dog licensing fees from $15 to $20 a year. They are expected to vote on the request by the end of the month.

Mr. Skeldon said the increase is necessary to keep his department financially stable so it doesn't have to draw on the county's strained general fund.

“We'd like to be self-sufficient,” he said. “If we are self-sufficient, we can do what we need to do in Lucas County to protect people from dogs.”

The last time the county raised fees was in 1997, when the price jumped from $10 a year to $15.

If approved by the commissioners, an increase would generate about $312,000 of additional revenue annually based on average yearly license sales of 62,389.

Commissioner Maggie Thurber said she supports the increase in fees.

“I commend them for taking these steps so they won't be a drain on the general fund,” Ms. Thurber said.

But Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who is Mr. Skeldon's cousin, wasn't ready to sign off on an increase yet.

“I want to see if there is any action that can be taken to reduce the fees to seniors,” Ms. Wozniak said.

Harry Barlos, president of the commissioners, said he backs the increase because he thinks the office should pay its own way, if possible.

“When you look at the dog warden's operation, it was always intended to be a stand-alone operation,” Mr. Barlos said. “It was always self-supporting until recently, when it began dipping into the county's general fund.”

According to the county's office of management and budget, the county paid $319,000 last year and is expected to pay $252,000 this year to supplement the dog warden's budget.

Raising fees may allow the county to avoid paying any money from its general fund, which is $137 million this year, in 2004 or 2005, the budget office said.

The licensing-fee increase would place the county on the high side in northwest Ohio and large urban counties. Cincinnati residents pay $13 a year; Cleveland and Columbus dog owners pay $12 and $8, respectively.

Regionally, Erie County residents pay $14 and dog owners in Wood and Fulton counties pay $12 annually.

Mr. Skeldon said the fees help promote compliance with licensing requirements and allow for stricter enforcement of dog-control laws.



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