GENEVA – The money problems plaguing Kane County Animal Control have not gone away.
But the situation is improving, as the department steps up its efforts to collect unpaid animal registration fees.
Tuesday, the Kane County Health Department reported collections at its animal control department had spiked in February, rising to around $80,000.
That number is about double the revenue the animal control department collected in January, said Barbara Jeffers, executive director of the county's Health Department, which oversees animal control.
And it is far above the $5,000 to $10,000 per month the department was collecting in the final months of 2012, as administration in the department changed, Jeffers said.
February's revenue total in the animal control department is slightly above the $70,000 to $75,000 per month needed to meet the annual budget at the animal control department, which Jeffers said is intended to be a self-sufficient agency operating almost entirely off of fees and registrations paid by animal owners.
As recently as 2008, the department was collecting about $500,000 in gross revenue per year, Jeffers said. But those collections steadily decreased in years since, leading the department last year to miss an annual $93,000 mortgage payment on the county animal control facility.
To remedy that situation, the county hired Robert Sauceda, a political ally of County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, as a temporary billing manager at animal control.
The hire was not formally approved by the County Board, despite a county hiring freeze. County Board members since have launched a review of the county's hiring policies.
Jeffers credited that hire, and the ideas that the department has instituted since then, with the boost in revenue. She noted that, among other ideas, animal control has boosted adoptions of animals, while also using more aggressive collection techniques, including robocalls and emails, to collect unpaid fees.
Jeffers and Lauzen noted that the county still must increase its collections if it is to meet this year's budget and make up for last year's unpaid bills.