December 11, 2013 - Crestwood's municipal code now aligns with City Administrator Mark Sime's decision to eliminate the city's animal-control position.
The Board of Aldermen voted 7-1 Nov. 26 to approve the second reading of an ordinance repealing Chapter 6 of the city's municipal code, which required the animal-control position, and replacing it with new language that aligns to St. Louis County's criteria for animal control.
Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen was opposed, though he said he respected Sime's "efforts for efficiency and savings."
"I voted 'no' the first round, and I still don't see when I look through the text (of the amendment) what I'd call a clear inclusion of our volunteer base and the foundation has been operating quite a while," Tennessen said. "I feel like this change, which really is a $30,000 savings ultimately is not a duplication of the county and it's damaging the good will of many of our residents."
When the board conducted its first reading of the ordinance, Sime said the update makes it easier for animal-rescue organizations to exist within the city because it allows for more than four animals. The current code only allowed four animals per household.
Resident Madonna Laws-Lowell told the board not just animal control but every department within the city is "redundant with St. Louis County."
"I contend that the argument to get rid of animal control is invalid because that argument can be made with every single department in the entire city," she said.
The city, according to Laws-Lowell, is "giving up an entire personalized service for what amounts to a tiny, insignificant increase that barely moves the needle."
Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding said he had not received any emails or phone calls regarding the issue.
"If it was that tragic I think I would get more phone calls and more emails about what we're doing here," he said.
Mayor Jeff Schlink said he received two negative comments regarding eliminating the animal control position, while Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach said he received one negative email.
Schlink said he met with the animal rescue group Friends of Animal Control Nov. 19 in what was an "extremely positive" meeting.
"There was no discussion on the removal of the animal control officer. The entire discussion focused solely on them running, or having the ability to continuing to run, the organization out of that facility," Schlink said.
Laws-Lowell also told the board that unelected staff members should not determine the services residents receive.
"My suggestion is that you abandon the current amendment as proposed and instead modify the Charter to give yourselves back the authority to make these types of decisions," she said.
Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter made a motion to amend the City Charter, proposing to give the board authority to vote "any time a service provided by the city is being eliminated." Tennessen seconded Stadter's motion.
However, City Attorney Lisa Stump suggested the city not recognize Stadter's motion and instead put the item on the board's next agenda.
Stadter said the intent is for the board to have discussion and the ability to vote "anytime an entire service that we are currently offering our citizens is eliminated."
"When I'm making this motion, it's not necessarily about animal control. We may decide as a group that we're not getting a huge public outcry; It's maybe not that big of a deal," she said. "My concern is if we have a problem in public works and Mr. Sime needs to remove an employee, the department or the service doesn't go away. My concern is any time an entire service is lost from the city, I think as a board it's our responsibility to at least way in on that and not put it all on his shoulders to make that decision."