Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

HARK, borough agree on contract

 


After months of haggling, the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel and Haines Borough have reached a contract agreement.

The assembly approved the new contract Tuesday, which states the borough will pay $23,784 to HARK for animal control services through June 30, 2016. That’s less than the $45,250 budgeted by the assembly for the contract.

HARK board president Tara Bicknell said there will be some changes in operations, but HARK patrons won’t likely notice a change in service.

Bicknell said the police department has taken on some animal control services. HARK will be responsible for patrolling and picking up at-large dogs Tuesday through Saturday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The rest of the time, the duty will fall to police.

Police will drop off the dogs at an outdoor kennel, and then HARK personnel can bring the animals inside later, Bicknell said.

“They can call us any time if they want help with aggressive animals, injured animals. We are still going to be there,” Bicknell said.

“We realize we have skills maybe the police department isn’t trained in, so we are offering to be there in any situation the police decide they want us there for,” Bicknell said.

The new contract will also necessitate a change in staffing, Bicknell said. Instead of employing an “animal control officer,” HARK will have an animal care provider. Bicknell said the position will be cut back “quite a bit,” likely reducing the hours by half. Pay for the position will likely be reduced, she said.

The issue of HARK’s funding level from the borough flared up this spring when manager David Sosa proposed slashing the organization’s contract from $47,800 to $16,200. The assembly restored funding to $45,250, but during contract negotiations, HARK and the borough struggled to come to agreement on what services should be provided and for how much money.

Negotiations appeared to grind to a halt in late September, when Sosa sent out a press release stating the two organizations were unable to reach an agreement and the borough would be transferring animal control duties to the police department.

HARK president Bicknell said she believes negotiations were drawn out because it took the borough a while to realize what exactly HARK does. “I think it just took time for them to understand what HARK does and what we can offer,” she said.

One silver lining to the fraught process was the community rallying to support HARK, Bicknell said. “It really was an affirmation that HARK is fulfilling a big need in the community and is doing a good job at it,” she said.

According to a recent survey by the Haines Chamber of Commerce, of 43 respondents, 41 said they would prefer HARK to handle animal control services over the police department.

 
 

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