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Potsdam Humane Society continues negotiations with towns regarding 2014 contracts

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POTSDAM — The Potsdam Humane Society is asking town councils for more money under annual contracts to house the animals picked up in those communities. Executive Director Alicia M. Maynard traveled across much of St. Lawrence County recently to renegotiate contracts with some of the 11 municipalities the group serves.

The towns of Hopkinton, Norfolk and Stockholm are deliberating proposals from the society, while Brasher already has agreed to a $950 increase in 2014, from $3,800 to $4,750.

Stockholm has been asked for $1,050 more. Norfolk is being asked for an increase of $1,475, or 25 percent, to $7,875. The request of Hopkinton was on the lower end, at $25, from $1,775 to $1,800.

Ms. Maynard has stressed to towns that the Humane Society’s primary goal remains reducing the unwanted-animal population through its spay-and-neuter program and related education, which accounts for some requested price hikes.

Ms. Maynard said numbers are re-evaluated each year through a new animal database. She said each stray costs $180 to house at the shelter, and contract fees are based on the number of animals from each town. Education, she said, helps towns reduce their stray-animal populations.

“We do a lot of involvement with local schools,” Ms. Maynard told Hopkinton Town Council members last week. “We go to the colleges and do a bunch of different programs, and we actually want to be a bit more proactive this year. We’re hoping what we can do is if we help continue education and helping the public know about the spay-and-neuter program, we’ll get your numbers lower.”

Norfolk, where the number of animals “more than doubled from the previous year,” pays “much less per animal than almost all of the other municipalities,” Humane Society board President Carrie H. Tuttle told the Town Council earlier this month. She said the society has capped increases at 25 percent “and tried to keep those communities closer to being fairly charged based on the number of animals that we are having to handle at the shelter.”

“All of that revenue that comes in helps us to be able to keep the municipal contracts as low as we possibly can,” Ms. Tuttle said. “We understand the challenges that the towns face.”

One of the Humane Society’s most popular programs is Project SNIP (Spay Neuter in Potsdam), which in the past two years has performed more than 200 surgeries.

Ms. Maynard and Ms. Tuttle have said a third of the Humane Society’s revenue comes from the town contracts and the rest from private donors, including local businesses. The shelter’s annual budget is $297,000, they said.

Major expenses of the Potsdam Humane Society include employment ($158,591), animal-related expenses ($54,670), shelter operation and maintenance ($33,530) and the shelter mortgage payment ($24,060).

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