Massena Humane Society wants land in return for cuts

The Massena Town Council has asked departments to trim their budgets by 20 percent, but Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said the Massena Humane Society wants something in return — the parcel of land on the South Raquette Road where the animal shelter is located. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Massena Town Council has asked departments to trim their budgets by 20%, but Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said the Massena Humane Society wants something in return — the parcel of land on the South Racquette Road where the animal shelter is located.

“They own their building,” he said.

The town of Massena contracts with the Massena Humane Society for the animal shelter for $10,000 per quarter. The payment is made on or before Jan. 31, April 30, July 31 and Oct. 31 for a total of $40,000.

“This amount represents a contribution toward the expense the Massena Humane Society incurs for operating the shelter for any dangerous dogs, lost, stray or homeless dogs and cats as specified above,” the contract reads.

The Massena Humane Society provides a detailed financial report each quarter before payment is issued.

“The only thing that’s required by Ag and Markets is we have to provide a place to shelter dogs. We have always paid them to accept cats, ferrets and rabbits. We also contract $13,500 to give us animal control for dog complaints and to pick up strays. That’s a separate contract. I’ve left that the same,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.

He said the two-year contract with the Humane Society expires at the end of the year, and, as he’s done with other departments, he invited a representative to meet with the Town Council to discuss their budget.

“They chose not to come to the meeting. We were going to discuss it,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said. “We had that trouble the last time. We couldn’t even get them to come to a meeting. That went on for six months and we didn’t pay them. Then we finally got them in.”

He said he sent a copy of the town’s budget proposal for their signature.

“She sent an email and suggested that with the 20 percent reduction, they would sign if we signed over the property that the humane shelter sits on. The humane shelter was built on Massena town property out by the highway garage. We provide them with the land that the building sits on. They pay $1 a year. That was her offer. I don’t think we should do that,” he said.

“Especially with the project we have going on right now. Plans are progressing for a new highway garage,” Councilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said.

The animal shelter is located next to the current highway garage, and Mr. Carbone said the driveway leading to the animal shelter is used by the town.

“They would access the property, which would be landlocked (if the town gave the parcel to the Humane Society),” he said.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy said they’re open to meeting with Humane Society officials to hear why their budget should not be cut like other departments.

“We, the town, are facing revenue cuts of 20 percent,” he said.

Councilors suggested that if they couldn’t come to an agreement, they could look at other nearby shelters, such as Potsdam and Malone. Mr. O’Shaughnessy said they could also consider a one-year contract rather than two years.

“I would definitely contact Potsdam,” Councilman Robert Elsner said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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