Add Kane County Animal Control to the list of organizations unable to pay its mortgage. County officials who manage the agency asked county board members Tuesday for a one-year forbearance on the debt the agency still owes local taxpayers for building the animal control facility.
The county used a mix of tax dollars from two different accounts to fund $1.5 million of construction costs for the 8,200-square-foot animal shelter in 2007. The idea was for animal control to pay back that money with the new income the facility would generate.
On Tuesday, Public Health Executive Director Paul Kuehnert and new Animal Control Administrator Kimberly Rudloff said the agency can't afford this year's $153,000 payment. Taking that amount of money out of the agency's cash flow would come close to bankrupting its reserves and imperil its ability to pay its own bills in a timely fashion, they said.
The inability to make the payment is another black eye for the agency, which recently admitted to sending out dozens of tickets to area residents based on outdated records on rabies certificates. Indeed, Rudloff was hired with hopes of getting the agency back on track. She said Tuesday the agency's rabies paperwork is about all caught up, and the overall financial picture should follow within the next fiscal year.
Rudloff said she has ideas to build income through charging for some services currently provided for free, using the updated records to go after people when pet vaccinations fall off schedule, and being more timely when collecting outstanding payments. In the meantime, Rudloff and Kuehnert asked for some financial breathing room to get the agency in order.
County board member Melisa Taylor said there should be no rush to assume animal control can't make the $153,000 payment. Taylor said if Rudloff's promises of more income flowing into the agency prove true, then officials should wait to see if the new dollars are enough to make some or all of the payment as scheduled.
Kane County Finance Director Cheryl Pattelli said the agency would have to make a "pretty significant" jump in the amount of money it traditionally rakes in to afford the payment.
"I don't think I want to plan on a miracle," county board member Bonnie Kunkel said. She spoke in favor of giving the agency a pass on its building payment for the year. "This lady didn't create this problem, so I don't feel any special need to hold her feet to the fire."
Other board members on the committee overseeing animal control generally believed the agency must be assured of some financial cushion. The full county board must agree to the one-year pass before it is granted.