JAY — Selectpersons agreed Monday to continue having a town employee handle animal control duties for this year.
Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. sent a memorandum to towns in the county to determine if there is any interest in having a county-based animal control officer.
It has been very difficult to get qualified, trained animal officer control officers in several towns, Nichols said in July. In other towns, the problem is the cost associated with hiring and training animal control officers.
Many animal control officers have full-time jobs.
Several municipal representatives have approached him to see if something could be done, he said.
Initially, he thought the position could be filled by a deputy, but he later determined that wouldn’t work because he didn’t want to raise county taxes, he said.
Nichols is looking at other possibilities, such as employing a full-time person or a full-time person and a half-time person. The officer could also help towns track down residents who are not paying annual dog license fees.
“The trick is how do we do this without raising taxes,” Nichols wrote in his memo to town officials. “I know every town in the county appropriates a certain amount of money each year for this type (of) service. If every town contributed that money to fund a position like this we could be able to provide the best possible (animal control officer) service.”
Jay Animal Control Officer Larry Wright is a full-time employee responsible for animal control duties and buildings and grounds, as well as being cemetery sexton. The duties include maintaining and cleaning the Municipal Building, mowing cemeteries and ball fields, and providing backup for other town departments.
“We can’t really separate the cost,” Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said. It would be difficult to quantify the portion of Wright’s pay that reflects his animal control officer duties since he has so many other responsibilities in the town, she said.
They don’t really track the time he spends on animal control duties during work days but could track the weekend and night calls, LaFreniere said.
On Monday, Wright was dealing with a dog bite complaint, she told the board.
“I think for the most part, the people I have talked with are quite happy with Larry,” Selectperson Steve McCourt said.
There would be no savings to the town and the current setup is working, LaFreniere said. I know there are communities having trouble filling animal control officer positions, she added.
Selectperson Terry Bergeron said it would be difficult if the county officer was in the northern part of Franklin County and there was a call down in Jay, which is in the southern part of the county.
“I say leave as is for this year,” he said.
“Me, too,” McCourt said.
Chairman Justin Merrill said they would leave it alone this year but asked that the board be kept in the loop on the situation.