A proposal to set up a $100,000 cat desexing fund for Hamilton has clawed its way into the draft annual plan.
Hamilton City Council today voted 8-4 to include a proposal to set up a specific fund for all charities taking in and re-homing cats in its annual plan that will be voted on next month.
Hamilton mayor Andrew King put forward the late proposal to try and bring the city's out-of-control cat population in his chairman's report.
There are about four charities in the city managing about 3000 stray or feral cats in the city each year.
The earmarked funds would be available for all charities to apply for funding to help with de-sexing costs for cats located in Hamilton.
The cost of desexing a cat costs one of the charities Paws 4 Life between $45 and $70 per cat. It also pays $25 per cat to euthanise and dispose of cats unsuitable for rehoming.
Representatives from Paws 4 life told councillors the charity took in 15,000 cats from within the community. It did a lot of trapping at the university, schools and certain problematic areas such as Hillcrest.
"We desperately need the city to help us clean up the city. It's impacting in such a negative way," a Paws 4 Life representative said.
Paws 4 Life did not meet the council's strict criteria to enable it to tap into some of the council's $310,000 annual community grant fund.
Councillor Geoff Taylor supported the move and said councillors only needed to go to Glenview to see it was "chronic" problem and something needed to be done about it. "It's real."
Councillor Mark Bunting said if council didn't act, who else would do it and when.
"There's been suggestions this is prioritising pets before people.. this is no more pets over people than dog parks or dog facilities."
Councillors Paul Southgate, Dave Macpherson and Garry Mallett were among the eight councillors who supported it going through to the annual plan discussion, but indicated they still had concerns about elements of the proposal.
Councillor Paula Southgate said instead of just choosing to put $100,000 towards animal welfare, it needed to look at the overall amount if gave to Hamilton charities and to change the criteria.
"I'm not happy with us being one of the low end contributors to community grants."
Macpherson said pest control should be dealt with by the Waikato Regional Council.
Councillor Angela O'Leary and Rob Pascoe challenged staff advice that there would be no additional costs to council to administer the fund.
Councillor James Casson did not think it would be palatable with ratepayers who had been given a 9.7 per cent rates increase. He also pointed out staff had told then there was low public interest in it.
For: Mayor King, Councillors Bunting, Henry, Hamilton, Macpherson, Mallett, Southgate, Taylor
Against: O'Leary, Tooman, Casson, Pascoe