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New fees instituted at Animal Services

Posted: February 26, 2012 - 1:02am  |  Updated: February 27, 2012 - 11:44am

Twitter @DonnieFetter

Columbia County officials recently increased the fees to residents who surrender their pets to Animal Services.

Commission members approved an ordinance change Tuesday that allows Animal Services to now charge $30 for the initial pet surrendered and $10 for subsequent pets. Previously, pet owners were charged $25 for the first pet and $5 for subsequent pets.

Pet owners will now need to show proof of vaccinations before releasing animals to Animal Services.

Also, retrieving deceased pets from area veterinary offices now costs $40 per animal, up from $10 per pet.

In addition to fees, the revision now limits the pets accepted by Animal Services to those belonging to Columbia County residents.

Also at the meeting, commission members accepted a nearly $7 million bid to purchase a new 800 megahertz trunked radio system for the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Clay Whittle told commissioners that the new system greatly improves the range of the radios, with clear reception in 98 percent of the county.

The new system will be tied into the county’s broadband network, which is under construction and includes several new radio towers.

Thanks to the broadband infrastructure, Whittle said the cost for the system was considerably less.

“If we didn’t have this (broadband network), we’d probably be looking at $10 million ... to make this system come together,” he said.

To purchase the system, commission members agreed to make an initial down payment of $3.5 million from the 911 Fund Balance.

Such expenditures from the 911 reserves once were illegal. New legislation, drafted by state Rep. Ben Harbin and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in May during a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, now allows for the purchase of upgrades to emergency communications equipment.

The balance of the purchase will be paid over the next decade at a 3.19 percent interest rate.

Other county agencies also can use the system in return for sharing in the maintenance costs.

For the first time, Whittle said such agencies as the sheriff’s office, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue, county Emergency and Operations, and others will be able to communicate via radio.

Whittle has said the radio system might be ready for use by October.

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