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Sauceda drives cash to Kane Animal Control, but is it enough?

GENEVA – The man hired to serve as a temporary billing manager in the Kane County Animal Control Department has improved the county department’s financial situation.

But county officials are giving Robert Sauceda more time to demonstrate that his position should be retained once the county hires a full-time administrator to oversee operations at the department.

Barb Jeffers – executive director of the Kane County Health Department, which oversees the Animal Control Department – said the financial situation at Animal Control has improved markedly in recent months.

She noted that collections of pet registration fees required for rabies vaccinations have increased this year compared to last in each of the first four months of 2013.

After leveling off in March to levels near those collected in 2012, collections spiked again in April, rising from $54,261 to $78,822.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, who serves as Jeffers’ supervisor, has said Animal Control, which relies on the fees for its funding, must draw in at least $70,000 to $75,000 a month to pay all of its bills this year.

Earlier this year, Lauzen, fearing that Animal Control would again fall short of its needed collections, hired Sauceda to serve as billing manager to increase collections at the department until the county could hire an administrator to oversee Animal Control.

The hiring was controversial because the creation of the position and the candidate were not presented to the Kane County Board for review and approval.

Critics also noted that Sauceda had been a political supporter of Lauzen.

However, in the months since his hire, Sauceda has been the “guiding force” behind increasing the collections, Jeffers said, creating marketing plans and collections strategies to increase compliance among pet owners.

But Jeffers said she has not yet decided whether to request Sauceda’s billing manager position be made permanent.

She noted Sauceda earns a $52,000 annual salary, which would need to be paid entirely from fees collected.

And she said the county still intends to hire an administrator at a salary of $65,000 to $75,000 later this year.

“There may not be enough revenue to justify both positions,” Jeffers said.

She said the county will need to evaluate Animal Control income and revenue trends later this year to make that determination.

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