The Neosho City Council will vote soon on a proposed reduction in pet license fees, following a discussion at Tuesday evening's council meeting.
Council came to consensus to propose the fees be reduced to closely reflect those charged by the City of Joplin, with a few exceptions.
If approved, the city would discontinue offering lifetime pet licenses, though those who have already purchased lifetime tags would be grandfathered in.
Neutered pet fees would be free, compared to a current $5 fee, non-neutered fees would be $20, down from the current $25 charge, and animal pick-up would be $25, down from the existing $37 fee.
"I think we need to be careful we don't give it away, but I also think the taxpayers expect a certain amount of service for what they're paying taxes for," said councilman Tom Workman.
The council did not have pet license fees on the agenda as an action item Tuesday evening and therefore could not make a vote on the proposal.
Mayor Richard Davidson said the council would vote on the proposal once an ordinance has been drafted.
However, the City of Neosho has scheduled their second annual pet fair event for Saturday, March 2, and council is not set to meet again until Tuesday, March 5.
Davidson said the city could meet in a special session meeting and vote to waive the existing fees for the day of the event, while officially changing the city's fees would require a second and third reading.
The council has not yet announced the date of the special session meeting.
The city's pet license fees began attracting attention when the city's code enforcement officer, John Harrington, approached council in their Feb. 5 meeting, and proposed a list of pet license fee increases.
The increases proposed in the Feb. 5 meeting included increasing the non-neutered one-year fee to $30, increasing the neutered one-year fee to $15, increasing the lifetime neutered fee to $40, raising the replacement tag fee from $3 to $10, and increasing the voluntary pick-up fee from $37 to $60.
Harrington said in preparing for the upcoming pet fair he noticed that in some cases, the city was paying more for the licensing than the fee that was charged.
After a lively discussion, in which Hart asked that fees be lowered and Ruth proposed the fees be left at the existing rates, council ultimately opted to table the issue until they could look at the fees charged by surrounding cities.
However, after looking at the fees from 16 surrounding communities, which on average came in lower than Neosho's current fees, Ruth said he would propose lowering the current rates.
"Looking at the fees charged in surrounding areas, I think we can do one better," Ruth said. "Let's don't penalize those people that follow the law."
Page 2 of 2 - Meanwhile, councilman Charles Collinsworth proposed keeping existing fees as they are, while asking municipal judge Andy Wood to increase the fines for citizens who break the city's animal ordinances.
"Raising things was not an alternative, but continuing to go further in the hole by slashing things I don't think is a viable fiscally smart alternative either," Collinsworth said. "There's a part of me, I do love it, but I don't think it's fiscally the best move."
While council did not ultimately propose Collinsworth's recommendation, city attorney Steve Hays said he could speak with Wood about increasing the fines.
Council also heard from Neosho resident J.C. Herrell, who spoke as a visitor about his opposition to raising pet licensing fees.