Dog owners still not impressed by fee rethink


Auckland Council is having a rethink over part of its proposed dog fee increases, but new proposed figures out today still show increases of more than 80 per cent for dog fees, even for dog owners with licences.

The council appears to have responded to the outcry over there being no rebate at all for owners going to the trouble of getting a "responsible dog owner" licence. That issue was one of the biggest bugbears in the proposed new fee structures outlined in the Draft Long Term plan and first revealed by The Aucklander just over two months ago.

Auckland Council announced today it will consider two new proposals on dog registration fees, including reinstating a discount for responsible dog owners.

The proposals are included in a report to the Strategy and Finance Committee which meets on Thursday May 3 at 10am. The committee will then make a recommendation for the fee rebate to be included in the Long Term Plan.

Read the document here.

Around 4500 of the almost 10,000 public submissions received over the council's plan for the next 10 years, related to the proposal to increase dog registration fees and remove discounts for holders of dog owner licences.

"Throughout the submission process, I made it clear we would listen to the concerns of Aucklanders," says Auckland mayor Len Brown.

"As well as the level of increase proposed, one of the other main themes of the submissions was that there was no incentive or reward for responsible dog owners.

"We believe the new proposals will go some way to addressing these concerns although in coming up with the revised fees we also had to be mindful of the impact it would have on the overall rates," he says.

But Auckland dog owners writing on the Stand Up Auckland Dog Owners Facebook page say the fee is still too high.

"If they adopt option C (see below) that is still close to a 100% increase ($47 to $90)," writes Jacqui Williams. "And they are still insisting that user-pays of 80% of the costs is reasonable when responsible dog owners clearly do not use the service."

Dog owner Michelle Parker wrote: "They set it high so that when the real price comes in we (hopefully) will say 'oh, that's not as bad'. No no no! It is still too high for what we get and still the good dog owners are penalised."

The document also almost doubles the fee charged to owners whose dogs are impounded, from $35 to $60.

But Jacqui Williams says that charge nowhere near matches what she believes it would cost.

"Why [has] the proposed impound fee gone from $35 to $60 - that should be much larger. I know it's not pleasant if your dog gets picked up, but the true cost of Dog Control coming out to get your dog, taking it to the pound, trying to find the owner from the microchip etc. is surely more than $60?"

The report being presented to the committee on Thursday says the revised fees proposed "will result in a decrease in overall dog registration and impoundment revenue from that forecast in the draft Long Term Plan. The shortfall is estimated at $0.925 million for Option B and $0.945 million for Option C."

The original proposed fees were:

Standard dog fee (un-neutered, un-speyed) $160

Desexed dog $120

Working farm dog $50

Superannuitants (with Community Services Card) $50

The two alternative proposals being considered are:

Either:

OPTION B $150 standard fee (or $80 when Responsible Dog Owner Licence, RDOL, fee applied)

$120 registration fee for desexed dogs (or $80 when RDOL fee applied).

OR

OPTION C $145 standard fee (or $90 when RDOL fee applied)

$115 registration fee for desexed dogs (or $90 when RDOL fee applied).

Both options also propose reducing the working farm dog and superannuitant (with a Community Services Card) fees from $50 to $45 and increasing the impounding fee from $35 to $60.

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here

What do you think? Does the rebate go far enough? Have your say through the comment box below or head to our Facebook page.

- THE AUCKLANDER

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