$4 mil­lion bill is Fresno’s ‘worst’ deal, city lead­ers say

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY BRI­ANNA CALIX [email protected]­nobee.com

The Fresno City Coun­cil ap­proved a one-year con­tract with the Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia SPCA for more than $4 mil­lion — but city of­fi­cials made it clear they’d hap­pily choose another an­i­mal con­trol ven­dor if one was avail­able.

“The SPCA is prob­a­bly the most dis­mis­sive, poorly-run or­ga­ni­za­tion that I think we’ve had to deal with,” Dis­trict 3 Coun­cilmem­ber Miguel Arias said af­ter the vote. “Clearly, they’re not in­ter­ested in mak­ing im­prove­ments or meet­ing with the city re­lated to our con­cerns.

“I think it’s fair to say they’re on no­tice,” he said. “They need to fix things, es­pe­cially since they’re pretty free to ask for more money for the same ser­vice they’ve been pro­vid­ing for years that hasn’t been up to par.”

The vote came Thurs­day and ex­tended by one year a 2014 con­tract for an­i­mal con­trol, pound­mas­ter, ve­teri­nary and an­i­mal shel­ter­ing ser­vices. The cur­rent con­tract ends June 30.

Since 2014, the con­tract cost has in­creased about $1 mil­lion for cost-ofliv­ing ad­just­ments and min­i­mum-wage in­creases. The ex­ten­sion cost is up by al­most $250,000, bring­ing the to­tal cost to $4.2 mil­lion.

SPCA of­fi­cials were un­avail­able for ques­tions but is­sued a brief state­ment say­ing they were “pleased” with the ad­di­tional money.

The con­tract cov­ers 13 an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers plus a su­per­vi­sor, seven cus­tomer ser­vice agents at the shelter, one in­take co­or­di­na­tor, a vet­eri­nar­ian, an­i­mal care assistants and more.

Nel­son Es­parza was the only coun­cilmem­ber to vote no. In an in­ter­view with The Bee on Fri­day, he said con­stituents are un­happy with the ser­vices for good rea­son.

“That con­tract is the worst con­tract the city has, hands down,” he said. “The rea­son they get away with this ter­ri­ble con­tract is be­cause they have a mo­nop­oly on an­i­mal con­trol ser­vices.”

Es­parza said he hopes the city will be able to find a new an­i­mal con­trol ven­dor.

In April, the city so­licited bids for an­i­mal con­trol ser­vices. But as of The Bee’s dead­line on Fri­day, the last day for ven­dors to sub­mit bids, there were no other bid­ders.

The CCSPCA has had a rocky his­tory with Fresno gov­ern­ment bod­ies. In 2011 and 2012, fac­ing harsh crit­i­cism over eu­thana­sia rates, the CCSPA threat­ened to end con­tracts

‘‘ THE REA­SON THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS TER­RI­BLE CON­TRACT IS BE­CAUSE THEY HAVE A MO­NOP­OLY ON AN­I­MAL CON­TROL SER­VICES.

Nel­son Es­parza

with both Fresno County and the city of Fresno. County lead­ers even­tu­ally opted for another ser­vice provider, but the city since has main­tained its agree­ment with CCSPCA.

Since then, the agency has steadily worked to re­duce eu­thana­sia rates each year. At the same time, the num­ber of re­ported dog bites dou­bled.

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