KINGSTON >> Mayor Steve Noble has been authorized to sign a contract with the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals allowing the agency to assume dog-control services for the city.
The Common Council voted 8-1 to approve the arrangement and allocate some of the savings from the move to purchase body cameras for the police department. Alderwoman Maryann Mills. D-Ward 7, voted against the resolution.
“The modifications described in this resolution allow the Kingston Police Department to consolidate its animal-control services in a manner that still meets the needs of our community,” Noble said in a statement following the vote. “In addition, the cost savings realized in this consolidation will allow the police department to respond to other pressing needs, including the purchase of a body-worn camera system as part of a pilot project to improve transparency and safety, the equipment and overtime costs necessary to provide support for community festivals and events, and a camera system at our police headquarters.”
The resolution allocates $68,000 for animal control provided by the Ulster County SPCA, freeing $5,850 for the Kingston Police Department to purchase seven body cameras and $14,400 for the department to improve its surveillance system.
The resolution also sets aside $9,000 to be split between the police department and Department of Public Works for overtime costs associated with festivals and other events held in the city.
The city had spent approximately $100,000 annually for animal control services, which included salary and benefits for employees, veterinary services and kenneling. The contract with the Ulster County SPCA, cameras and overtime costs will be paid for using that funding.
The police department’s dog control officer resigned earlier this year.
Prior to the council’s vote Tuesday, Ulster County SPCA Executive Director Adam Saunders said he was excited his agency would have the opportunity to handle animal control for the city. He said the program would not be an experiment, but would be similar to those done by the Dutchess County SPCA and the Columbia-Greene Humane Society.
Saunders added that his agency’s main goal is to improve the lives of animals in its community, which includes Kingston.
Mills said she was against the resolution because the contract with the SPCA was not yet signed. She also attempted to move the resolution back to committee, but that motion failed after being supported only by Minority Leader Deborah Brown, R-Ward 9.
Resident Jean Jacobs, addressing the council prior to its vote, supported the resolution. She said the contract with the Ulster County SPCA would save taxpayers money, but also benefit the animals. Jacobs said the Ulster County SPCA employs professionals who are available to the public.