Last week, members of the Lompoc City Council asked city staff to start researching alternatives to contracting with Santa Barbara County for animal services after they got a glimpse of expected cost increases. for this service.
“What is the law for us to have our own pound? You get vaccinated against rabies, we issue a license. Some dogs identify as city cats because of this. I’m just totally lost by what turned into a fundraiser for the county, in my eyes. Because someone in Lompoc? They get nothing,” Councilman Dirk Starbuck said at the May 17 meeting.
Lompoc senior administrative analyst Erin Keller said the county provided additional funding to communities from its general fund as well as tobacco tax collections. At its April 19 meeting, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors agreed to phase out the general fund supplement in fiscal year 2022-23 and to phase out tobacco tax funding by 2025.
Lompoc’s contract with the county expires on June 30, and Keller said no new contract has been put on the table, but she provided cost estimates based on current numbers in anticipation of the upcoming discussion. .
Under the new proposal, Keller estimated that Lompoc’s contract with the county could cost $5,560 more in 2022-23, up 1.6% from the previous year, for a total of $347,260. . The rate would increase by approximately $15,000 per year thereafter until 2027.
Starbuck has taken umbrage to outsource services that are no longer housed within city limits. Since the county’s closure of the Lompoc Animal Center The PAWS, 1501 W. Central Ave., townspeople have been forced to travel to the county’s Santa Maria facility for the shelter component.
He proposed that Lompoc consider providing its own animal services, potentially by purchasing the county’s La Paws facility.
Mayor Jenelle Osborne asked staff to return to council with answers to Starbuck’s questions, information about potential alternatives to accepting the contract and plans that could allow the city to take matters into their own hands in the long term. while potentially accepting the county contract in the shortest term.
“If we could do it, as the city of Lompoc, do it cheaper, I want to see that,” ProTem Mayor Jeremy Ball said.
Councilman Victor Vega also encouraged the search for alternatives.
“I think we’ve been here before, and I think we need to be a little more proactive in looking at options instead of being option scared,” he said.