GENEVA – A month after touting improvements in the collection of money owed to Kane County’s Animal Control Department, county officials said animal control still has work to do to bring the department on to more firm financial footing.
This week, the Kane County Health Department, which oversees the Animal Control Department, reported Animal Control collections had dipped in March to levels on par with those recorded the same month one year ago.
In all, the Health Department reported collections of around $60,000 in March.
That figure represented a dip from February, when department collections had spiked to around $80,000.
In late 2012, before the department hired a billing manager, Animal Control was bringing in just $5,000 to $10,000 a month.
County officials have said Animal Control needs to collect about $70,000 to $75,000 a month to meet its annual budget and avoid needing payments from the county to pay for expenses such as a $93,000 annual mortgage payment on the Animal Control facility.
Barbara Jeffers, executive director of the health department, and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen had credited the February increase to the hiring of the billing manager and the collections ideas and tactics instituted since then.
Some collections tactics employed to date have included robocalls and emails to remind pet owners of the requirement to vaccinate and register their pets.
“In January and February, we could celebrate making progress,” Lauzen said. “But I don’t think we can take for granted good performance.”
Lauzen and Jeffers said the Animal Control may soon participate in the Local Debt Recovery Program, administered by the Illinois Comptroller’s Office.
Under this program, unpaid fees can be collected by the comptroller’s office, which confiscates state payments such as income tax refunds or lottery winnings.
Jeffers said the Health Department also is increasing “public education” efforts of the need to pay animal registration fees.
At the same time, the County Board’s Public Health Committee also endorsed a proposal to reduce the fee schedule charged to municipalities when Animal Control is called to deal with an animal within a city or village.
Jeffers said the reduced fees were intended to encourage the cities and villages to pay the fees and deal with the animals, rather than opting to not involve Animal Control.
Some cities had complained the fees were too expensive.