Recently, it has been asked of the citizens of Altus to volunteer time and help supply donations for the Altus Animal Shelter which is run by the Altus Animal Control Department.
I’d like us all to stop and think about that for a moment.
Would the city want people to volunteer as police dispatchers? Would the city want citizens to volunteer their time to work in the clerk’s office?
Animal control is a publicly funded department under the umbrella of the Altus Police Department. The City of Altus should prepare for and provide the necessary resources to run the animal shelter.
As it stands, animal control’s budget was cut almost 40 percent from fiscal year 2015-16 to fiscal year 2016-17. That amounts to a $131,023 cut from $339,943 last year to $208,920 this year.
It also makes it the only piece of the Altus Police Department that didn’t receive a budget increase this year. Traffic received an increase of $225,000, detective received an increase of $270,729, and administrative received an increase of $68,254.
The majority of this cut came from capital project expenditures in the amount of $60,000 that were allocated but never spent from last year. If you’ve seen the poor state of the shelter, this will leave you scratching your head especially considering the police department ended up with an estimated $200,000 surplus at the end of last fiscal year.
We should all also be scratching our heads at the fact that in the face of losing the Department of Corrections workers who once helped staff the shelter, the city has budgeted for no additional personnel beyond the two full-time and two part-time positions that it had last year.
Make no mistake, the need for volunteers isn’t due to the city’s lack of revenue. It is due to poor budgeting.
I want to conclude by applauding and praising the efforts of those citizens who have stepped up to go above and beyond to take care of the animals in our city by volunteering their time and resources. You folks are the shining light of how great Altus is.
Now it is time for the City of Altus and the Altus Police Department to take note of the work you’ve done and make this situation right.
Reach Matt Moran at 580-482-1221, ext. 2071.