2010-04-15 / Letters to the Editor

Time to consider ‘pay per call’ for ACO

I am taking this opportunity to explain where we are in the budget process with emphasis on the dog officer’s position. During the workshops, the administrator proposed several changes and gave an overview of the budget. The citizens spoke on their concerns on numerous items, but mostly on the dog officer’s position. The council has not discussed the matter yet, but will in an upcoming work session.

The administrator examined productivity, efficiency and possible waste in several areas of the town’s operations. He then recommended elimination of one full-time position at Town Hall, reduction by 10 hours per week of another and eliminating the dog officer position (ACO). He suggested having the ACO services provided by the police, highway department and the North Kingstown dog officer.

The issue of the dog officer’s position was researched extensively in a detailed manner. We are not eliminating the dog officer service in Jamestown, but reviewing how best to provide that service. We should not pit one position or department against another, or say that because we have a volunteer fire and EMS, we should or can support positions that are not cost effective or meeting the needs of the town. Every position should be reviewed on its own merits.

This matter is not taken lightly and will be discussed in depth in the coming weeks. I have had several conversations outside the meetings with concerned citizens and both sides are being heard. There have been several rumors passed around that I have researched and corrected. It is best that those rumors not be listed, but anyone is free to contact me and I will clarify or research the issues.

Here is my opinion and not that of the council. After hearing the input at the workshop and reviewing the animal control calls, I came to the conclusion that the dog officer’s position should be performed by someone in Jamestown not North Kingstown. In looking at the calls, it appears to me that having someone on duty during established hours has not met the needs of the people of Jamestown. The dog officer herself mentioned Chuck Bursey, who was the dog officer when I was on the police department. He responded whenever we needed him.

I feel we should have someone available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past, more than half of the calls were handled by the police and that was because we could not pay the dog officer overtime to handle all the calls. In these tough economic times, people are asking me to not increase their taxes. With the state passing along tax burdens onto Jamestowners, we must find ways to cut spending while maintaining services.

What I have asked the town administrator to look into is the old system of pay-per-call for the dog officer. That way, we can maintain a Jamestowner providing the services in a compassionate and caring manner while controlling costs. This is not a slap in the face, as some have suggested, to Cathy Gregory. It is a very diffi cult decision for me because I have known her and her family for decades. She is an excellent dog officer, a caring person and a pleasure to be around.

Other ideas for cost savings have been brought up during the meetings and will be reviewed during either this budget cycle or, if more time is needed, during the next. More positions will be reviewed for consolidation, elimination or regionalization. Regionalization was brought up during the campaign as a means of saving tax dollars. If anyone has suggestions on how to save tax dollars, please contact the town administrator or any council member.
Bill Murphy
Jamestown Town Council

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