By Pam Robinson
The Mount Vernon City Council once again voted at its Thursday night meeting to table the revised animal control ordinance. Council member Becky Higgins had served as chairperson for a committee including Dr. Sarah Appel, Ken Rudibaugh, Animal Control Officer James, and Police Chief Grant Beloat. Noting the committee had reviewed the ordinance page by page, Higgins presented suggested changes, referring to section numbers and commenting on deleted passages and one correction. Higgins herself suggested the ordinance be tabled until the next city council meeting so the third reading would include corrections.
Council member Bill Curtis commented he would prefer to hear from anyone in the audience concerned with the ordinance at that meeting, rather than in two weeks, to prevent the ordinance needing yet another revision. His comments prompted an unidentified audience member to suggest that council present discussion in laymen’s terms rather than referring to section numbers.
Council member Andy Hoehn then stated a pet owner might have as many pets as he wanted as long as the pets were cared for, received veterinarian care and annual shots, and caused no offense to neighbors. Council member Curtis repeated that the City of Mount Vernon places no limit on the number of pets in a household unless someone complains about the animals lacking care. Hoehn then stated if the animal control officer were called in, fines and penalties were in place for people in violation of the ordinance. Likewise, the animal control officer might immediately take a vicious animal.
Discussion continued with City Attorney Beth McFadin Higgins clarifying that animal control complaints will be handled with common sense, much the same way law enforcement handles complaints. She added that there is no requirement that a ticket be issued.
After more discussion about fines and tag prices, council member Bill Curtis interpreted audience response to mean the public would support the animal control ordinance if revised as Higgins’ committee had suggested. Audience members registered a qualified yes, stating they would also like to read the full ordinance first. Council member Curtis then suggested the ordinance be amended as presented and placed on the city website for the public to view.
Council member Andy Hoehn added that the council’s intent is to keep residential pet owners separate from commercial pet businesses.
During the discussion, everyone was reminded that a county ordinance does limit the number of pets in a household. Later in the meeting, Council member Hoehn reported the animal control issue is on the docket for the next meeting of the Area Plan Commission to discuss the legal number of animals in a household.
In other business:
•Council passed a resolution to transfer $200,000 from the Rainy Day Fund to the General Fund. Council discussed that there are provisions that allow loans from Rainy Day and EDIT to be forgiven – no repayment. City Attorney Higgins suggested another resolution be prepared for forgiving outstanding loans from these two funds.
• Council passed on second reading, suspended the rules, and then also passed on final reading an ordinance passed on first reading at the previous meeting. This ordinance discusses Use Unit 20 concerning commercial recreation, unanimously recommended for approval by the Area Plan Commission.
• Council passed on first reading the ordinance establishing salaries for elected Mount Vernon city officials during the year ending December 31, 2012.
• Council member Andy Hoehn reported that the Co-op’s ammonia tanks will be moved 1,000 feet from any school and 200 feet from any residence and will be monitored with cameras and additional lighting.
• When council member Hoehn asked about the West School water garden, Mayor John Tucker advised the city is in the process of scheduling a meeting with Bernardin Lochmueller & Associates and the Metropolitan School District of Mount Vernon.
• Council member Hoehn also reported on the bridge east of town. He said County Council is committed to the bridge, but wants input from the public first. He urged residents to call 838-1311 in support of the bridge.
• Council member Hoehn asked about the Mulberry Street meth house. City Attorney Higgins responded that it was sold and the buyer has petitioned for deed, which means the house can be torn down. She added there are public records indicating petition for deed.
• Council member Hoehn suggested, with council’s agreement, that follow-up items be placed under old business so they aren’t possibly forgotten.
• Council member Becky Higgins announced that Christmas on Main Street will be Saturday, December 1. She said parade guidelines are available, and the committee is accepting donations of cash or toys up to grade 5.
• Resident Ann Fischer questioned the change in parking on the east side of the court house. Mayor John Tucker replied he believes information was published in the newspaper since fines are involved.
• Council member Higgins asked council to consider moving meetings back to Monday night, saying some people have indicated a preference for Monday evenings. She said, for example, if someone is attending a class and can’t make it back by Thursday, that person will miss all the meetings. Council member Curtis replied he had been at City Hall since 9 a.m., and he has not changed his position on Thursday night meetings, preferring the way it is. Council member Hoehn said Monday night meetings were difficult for him to make by 7 p.m. a few times a year if the Area Plan Commission had a hot meeting. He added, however, that he doesn’t care either way.
• Mayor Tucker thanked Water Supt. Chuck Gray for once again taking on the city’s black birds and crows for no extra pay although he may need funds for equipment later on.
• When meeting as the Water Utility Board, council members heard a report on the water improvement project from Project Manager Rich DeMarco with Johnson Controls, Inc. In addition, City Attorney Higgins reported the state had approved the city’s rates.
The Mount Vernon City Council will meet again Thursday, November 15, 2012, 7 p.m. in the City Hall Annex.
By Pam Robinson
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