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Council Debates Pact for Animal Control

January 14, 1998|COLL METCALFE

City Council members again explored the contentious issue of renewing its contract with Ventura County Animal Regulation, directing both city staff and the county to answer a series of questions before a decision is made.

Specifically, the council asked county representatives to look into ways of providing better service to Simi Valley, particularly at night, and to begin drafting performance standards for any future contract with the city.

"This is a fairly expensive service and we'd like to know what we're paying for," Mayor Greg Stratton said Monday night. "But it sounds like we've got some opportunities to work this out."

The city spent more than $226,000 on animal control services last year, with the county projecting $242,000 to continue the service for another year after the contract expires in June.

City leaders and residents have peppered the agency with criticism in recent months for what they feel is substandard performance, particularly during the evening hours when response to calls can sometimes take hours.

Animal Regulation Director Kathy Jenks, however, defended the agency, saying that during the evening only one officer is on call for the entire county. Typically, she said, response times can be as long as an hour when officers must travel to Simi Valley or to communities in the county's hinterlands.

Council members also asked that the county and city staff work to forge a more stringent contract in order to establish standards that the city can use to evaluate Animal Regulation's performance.

"As it is right now, the contract is kind of ethereal," said Councilman Paul Miller. "It says what will be done, but there are no standards . . . that should be changed."

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