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City moving to eliminate Animal House Fund from tax, water bills

Rachel Lippmann / St. Louis Public Radio
Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim with Mayor Francis Slay at the opening of Stray Rescue's new facility on July 19, 2010.

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – The city's health commissioner is recommending that St. Louis stop collecting money for the defunct effort to build a new city animal shelter.

Commissioner Melba Moore told the Board of Aldermen's health and human services committee on Wednesday that the $246,663 already collected via a nearly eight-year-old check-off box on water and property tax bills should go to a "financially and structurally sound organization," though she would not get specific. Two non-profits - Animal House, working with Metro Animal Resource Service, and Stray Rescue - are currently sheltering the stray animals picked up by the city.

The plan to remove the check-off from the property tax bill drew the objections of Ald. Dionne Flowers, who was involved in getting the current animal control system in place.

"Without any city funding, if these non-for-profits go under, then what is the city doing to make sure that the strays are being picked up at least," she said.

Moore said the health department is recommending removing the check-off because the ordinance directs the funds specifically to the new animal shelter. But she would not object to changing the wording of the ordinance to change where the donations would go.

"I don't think it's in our purview to change it," she said. "But if the Health and Human Services committee takes that on and decides to do that, that's a good job."

A spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay said he would also not object to such a change, but believes the fund should be removed and then restarted to avoid confusion about its purpose.


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