Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum have been talking about shared animal control services, with South Orange as the lead agency.
DeLuca noted that he and Collum were having ongoing conversations on the subject of animal control when he addressed the issue at the first of two Maplewood 2016 budget hearings on Saturday, Jan. 9.
DeLuca said that he had talked with Collum about sharing South Orange’s animal control officer — or ACO — on Friday.
“That is the long range plan,” said DeLuca, who then added, “We might be able to do something if something happened [with South Orange] before the contract ended.” DeLuca was alluding to the fact that, although the town’s contract with St. Huberts Animal Welfare Center in Madison runs through December 31, 2017, it has a 30-cancellation clause.
DeLuca reiterated that South Orange plans to be the lead agency on animal control services, including providing a “holding pen” for animals. (Collum contacted Village Green to clarify that the towns were considering a “low kill” shelter option for South Orange and Maplewood, not just a holding facility.)
The remarks from the Mayor came during Health Officer Robert Roe’s department budget report and request. Township Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee had asked Roe for a clarification on what services St. Huberts does and doesn’t supply regarding the removal of dead animals.
Roe noted that the town’s policy “is for residents to put dead wildlife on their property into the garbage.” With larger animals such as deer, Roe says he drags the carcass out to the street where it is hauled away by Public Works; then a private contract removes the carcass from DPW. (Roe noted that there were substantially less dead deer to remove in town since Essex County began its annual culling program in the South Mountain Reservation.)
“Some of the services we lost with contracting with St. Huberts,” said Roe. “They only do what’s in the contract.” Roe noted that St. Huberts does not “get involved” with deer, dogs fighting each other, barking dogs, and more. As a result, these issues have become a part of Roe’s daily workload and he is looking to “give” some of his other duties to the town’s nurses. Roe suggested that, when the town renegotiates with St. Huberts, it should consider having St. Huberts increase services.
This is when DeLuca balked, saying that the current approximately $75,000 annual contract with St. Huberts was “quite expensive” and that shared services with South Orange were perhaps a near-term option. (DeLuca also mentioned that he and Collum were continuing to discuss “possible shared service for animal control” in his State of the Township address on Jan. 1.)
Notably, Collum is scheduled to give an update on the former Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC) animal shelter building during her Village President report at the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.
During his presentation on Jan. 9, Roe also proposed that the Health Department expand health screenings to Winchester Gardens — a move that would be in keeping with recent discussions by town officials about improving services to seniors.
Read some of our previous coverage of animal control issues:
South Orange Bd. of Health Presents Plan to Manage Stray Cats, December 17, 2015
Collum: South Orange Now Focusing on Animal Control Issues, July 15, 2015