Robyn Edie / Stuff
Invercargill man Paul Owen has six huskies, which he also races. From left, Troika, rear left, Jesse, front left, Clifford, Bear, in the chair right, Wolf, front right, and Faelan.
Invercargill City Council owes more than $100,000 in unpaid dog registrations and there are fears the debt will rise as financial pressure weighs on households.
As of May, the council owed $106,683 in unpaid dog registrations, which relates to approximately 1,000 dogs.
There comes a time when the council is also increasing its dog registration fees for the 2022-23 year to help defray costs.
Fees for a “responsible owner” of desexed dogs will increase from $50 to $60 per year, and unsexed from $70 to $75.
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Overall, the council pegged the increase at around 5% of dog registration revenue to help cover the running costs of the operation.
Invercargill man Paul Owen is one of many responsible dog owners who make sure the council’s dog registration payment is paid every year.
He is in a unique situation where he owns six dogs while living in central Invercargill. Owen has six huskies that he rides.
Those with multiple dogs (five or more) pay an annual fee of $310.
Owen said that for some dog owners who were already finding it difficult, any increase at this time could potentially result in lower priority dog registration payments for some owners.
However, he acknowledged that the council had not increased its fees for three years and that this needed to be taken into account.
Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark raised concerns about the fee increase at a council committee meeting on Tuesday.
He didn’t believe the board should raise the fee simply because it hadn’t done so in a while.
“If we don’t have a raise pushing us beyond our budgets [it] wouldn’t be right with me,” Clark said.
“One of the things we have discussed in the past is that if you increase the pressure, especially at a time when there is pressure on families, we will have more people defaulting, and that in itself creates work. .”
Council staff member Trudi Hurst said there have been cost increases for her animal services relating to fuel, equipment, staff, as well as her after-hours supplier.
Cr Ian Pottinger asked if fees should be increased when the animal department had cash reserves available.
He asked if these cash reserves were being held for anything.
“What would we use these reserve funds for in the long run that we can only use for dog things?”
The council’s chief financial officer, Michael Day, said there was a project in the long-term plan for repair work at the pound and that cash reserves had been earmarked for this.
Reserves available are between $160,000 and $180,000, which would be used for capital works, as well as to potentially fund a shortfall for defaulting dog owners.
Approximately 93% of the council’s animal service costs are covered by user fees, with the remainder borne by the taxpayer.