Kane County considers $40 dog fee

  • Lou Rog finishes a walk with her retriever mix, Bear, last month at the Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve in St. Charles Township. Fox River Bluff West is one of three off-leash facilities in county forest preserves.

      Lou Rog finishes a walk with her retriever mix, Bear, last month at the Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve in St. Charles Township. Fox River Bluff West is one of three off-leash facilities in county forest preserves. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Jack Otis of Geneva and Abby, a golden retriever, enjoy the surroundings at Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve.

      Jack Otis of Geneva and Abby, a golden retriever, enjoy the surroundings at Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2008

  • Heather Chilo of South Elgin enjoys the warm spring weather with her dogs Dauber and Payton as they walk in the Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve in St. Charles Township.

      Heather Chilo of South Elgin enjoys the warm spring weather with her dogs Dauber and Payton as they walk in the Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve in St. Charles Township. BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, 2009

 
 
Updated 4/7/2011 7:11 PM

There are too many dog owners from outside Kane County bringing their pets to local forest preserve dog parks and not cleaning up after them, according to Kane County Forest Preserve officials. Now all dog owners might pay for that breach of pet etiquette.

Officials announced plans Thursday to charge Kane County residents $40 per dog per year for a permit to walk dogs in any of the three off-leash dog park facilities in the preserves. Owners would have to wear the permits around their necks as they walk their dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Non-county residents would pay $80 for a permit, and senior citizens would pay $25. Additional dogs brought to the parks would require the payment of additional, smaller fees.

The off-leash forest preserve parks are at Fox River Bluff West in St. Charles Township, Schweitzer Woods in Dundee Township and Aurora West.

Officials expect the permits would net about $80,000 a year in new income. The cost of implementing the permit program, including having plastic bags for owners to pick up after their dogs in all three parks, is about $20,000 a year.

But some of the biggest dog lovers on the forest preserve commission say they aren't fans of the idea.

Commissioner Deb Allan frequents the Schweitzer dog park and said now isn't the time to charge people to walk their dogs on property their taxes paid for.

"You do have those people who don't clean up after themselves," Allan said. "They don't have mothers. I don't know what else to say about that. But you also have people who go around the parks and pick up the dog poop for those who don't do it."

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Allan said charging $40 for a permit may result in people simply not using the dog parks anymore.

"Let's try and hold off on this thing because it's just gouging the taxpayer," Allan said.

Commissioner Mike Kenyon agreed, saying the timing of the plan is bad because taxpayers just approved a $30 million tax increase.

"I can see the headlines now," Kenyon said. "'Forest preserve receives $30 million bond referendum, but it's not enough.' They want $40 per dog. I bet had people known we were going to do this you wouldn't have gotten the tax increase to pass. People don't want to pay $40 to walk a dog."

But the county staff and other commissioners said the permits represent the cost of keeping the park sanitary and beautiful as well as limit the use of the preserves by non-county residents who don't pay to support the facilities through their taxes. Other counties and municipalities with dog parks charge anywhere from $25 to $60 for a resident permit and $50 to $180 for a nonresident permit.

"I meet people from Schaumburg and Palatine in the dog park all the time," Commissioner Jackie Tredup said. "I have to tell you in the summer it gets pretty nasty out there from people who don't pick up after their dog."

Commissioners decided to continue deliberations of the idea at a later meeting, including the potential for lowering the permit fee to a price that only covers the costs of the program.