It will cost local dog owners a few dollars more for Fido's license next year. Portage County commissioners on Thursday approved raised license fees from $12 to $15 for the annual tags, starting with the 2014 licenses.
Also, starting in 2014, licenses will be offered for one year, three year and permanent fees. The most recent state budget required counties to offer the multi-year licenses in addition to the annual tags.
The three-year license will cost $45 and the permanent license will be based on 10 years and will cost 10 times the annual cost, or $150.
In addition to the single dog licenses, kennel fees for those with five or more dogs are going up to $75 for a single year. No multiple-year license is available.
There will be no change to adoption fees, or other pound fees, said Dog Warden David McIntyre.
Commissioners discussed raised the fee only $2 to $14. The last time the fee was increased was in 2008 when it was raised from $10 to the current $12.
The fee hike is projected to bring in about $74,000 more over 2012 license fees. Todd Bragg, the commission's head of budget and finance, said the county pound operation has a cash balance but has begun to spend more than it takes in annually. Bragg said a $2 increase would suffice for "at least one year, maybe two," but would need another hike very soon to keep the operation in the black.
Commissioners voted 2-1 for the $3 hike. Commissioner Kathleen Chandler argued that a $2 raise was the only one allowed by state law and would keep the rate affordable. Commissioners Tommie Jo Marsilio and Maureen Frederick agreed the $3 hike would give the pound operation more long-term revenue. They also accepted a legal opinion by Assistant Prosecutor Chris Maduri that commissioners can exceed the $2 limit if commissioners deem it necessary.
McIntyre said the increase will still keep Portage rates on the low side of the scale state-wide.
"We are below the average of all the counties that abut us. Even at $15 there is no one below us," McIntyre said. Summit and Trumbull counties recently raised their annual fees to $18, and Geauga rose from $10 to $15, McIntyre said.
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