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Branford, North Branford Amend, Renew Animal Shelter Agreement

Branford, North Branford Amend, Renew Animal Shelter Agreement

New Haven Register, September 10, 2020

By Mark Zaretsky

Branford and North Branford will continue to share animal control services and the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, but North Branford will share the savings if any outside revenue were to come in, in under an amendment to the two towns’ 2005 agreement that the Branford Board of Selectman recently approved.

The selectmen’s Aug. 19 approval followed earlier approval by the North Branford Town Council.

Under the arrangement, North Branford will continue to pay 30 percent of the cost to provide animal control services and operate the animal shelter, as it has since the agreement was reached, said Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove.

But going forward, North Branford will pay 30 percent of “net operating costs,” which means that if the shelter brings in additional revenue beyond what the two towns pay to operate it, that will reduce North Branford’s share a bit, Cosgrove said Monday.

The arrangement previously was for North Branford to play a flat 30 percent of operating costs, he said. The agreement renews automatically each year, Cosgrove said.

“I think it works out for both towns,” he said. “I think it’s a good arrangement. It’s beneficial for both towns.”

Under the amendment approved Aug. 19, North Branford also would pay 30 percent of the cost of a proposed project to expand the animal shelter, Cosgrove said.

The current annual operating cost for the shelter is $367,026, said Director Laura Burban. That includes $201,224 in annual salaries, according to the approved 2020-21 town budget. The budget includes $2.5 million for an expansion project, but Burban said the town has not yet begun to seek approvals and that might not be the actual cost.

“If the town of Branford approves it, then we go to North Branford,” Burban said.

Of the regional arrangement, which has been in place since Feb. 9, 2005, Burban said “it works great.”

“I think regionalizing is the way to go,” she said. “It just makes everything more cohesive.”

Zoom approval back to top

The three-member Board of Selectmen approved the amendment unanimously, with Cosgrove, Selectman Ray Dunbar and Selectwoman Angela Higgins, who was sworn in July 1 following the death of her husband, 2nd Selectman Joseph Higgins Jr., all voting in favor.

The approval came after several questions at the Zoom meeting from resident Wayne Cooke.

“To be honest with you, I’m not going to belabor this, but I have a little bit of a problem with this,” said Cooke, asking why the people of North Branford don’t have a say in whether the agreement is renewed.

Cosgrove told Cooke that for North Branford, “It’s a fee-for-service” arrangement. Cooke pointed out that it’s not just a matter of North Branford paying its share of the shelter’s operating costs.

“Now you’re not talking about a fee for service. You’re talking about paying 30 percent of a capital project,” Cooke said, referring to the expansion project. “How can you ask the people of North Branford to pay 30 percent of a project they have no say in?”

Dunbar then made the motion to approve the amendment, with Higgins seconding it.