Soldotna looks at animal control

Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2011

The next logical step to the revamping of Soldotna's animal control ordinance came at Wednesday's meeting when the Soldotna City Council agreed unanimously to a revised list of the fines and fees imposed on violators.

Police Chief John Lucking explained that by formally adopting this amended bail schedule, a person who is cited for say, letting their dog roam the streets unattended, can merely pay the fixed amount set on the bail schedule instead of having to appear before a judge.

It is basically less of a hassle for people who just want to pay their dues and be done with the situation, Lucking said. He also pointed out that offenders can still contest the fine if they wish.

To establish Soldotna's fines for violations, such as failure to license a dog or participating in animal cruelty, Animal Control Officer Marianne Clark researched the dollar amounts that other local and state governments charge offenders.

The flat fees also assure that judges will not unfairly fine some people more or less than others, especially those who choose to contest the citation in court.

"If a person does contest the citation," Lucking said, "and goes through the process and is adjudicated and found guilty at a trial, it provides the judge with a fair and consistent same penalty scheme as other people who have not contested their position."

Court appearances are still mandatory in some cases, such as if a person suffers three violations within a 12-month period.

The council held an executive session at the end of Wednesday evening's meeting to discuss city manager Larry Semmens' contract. Council member Dale Bagley reported that no decisions were reached during the session, and that he could not comment further on the matter.

Other council developments included the acceptance of a $9,000 grant from the Alaska Highway Safety Office to go toward the purchase of two new radar units and twelve battery packs for the Soldotna Police Department.

"It will complete the equipment in our vehicle fleet and it will enhance the effectiveness of both targeted and routine traffic patrols in the city," Semmens said.

The council also formally appropriated the $2.5 million in secured bonds for the Soldotna library expansion project, but it is still hoping to receive more than $3.2 million from the state. Semmens voiced his concern over the state's potential funding of libraries both during the council meeting and after the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce gathering that took place the day prior.

"If there is library funding, I think that we will be successful with the state," he said. "The question is, will the Legislature fund libraries at all?"

Semmens and Mayor Peter Micciche delivered their State of the City presentation on Tuesday at the weekly Chamber of Commerce meeting. Their presentation (which included segments devoted to "Why Soldotna is Cool" and "The Top Ten Reasons Why Soldotna is Succeeding") focused on the city's recent accomplishments, project updates, and economic outlook.

"Today's presentation sounded rosy because it really is," Micciche said, pointing to the increased fund balance, low taxation rates, and quality of life in Soldotna.

"The city is in enviable condition."

Karen Garcia can be reached at karen.garcia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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