Council Tasks Advisory Board with Making Animal Control Department Recommendations

By George Slaughter

The Katy City Council Monday tabled a proposed $7,000 pilot program intended for providing animal vaccinations upon intake, choosing instead to await best practice recommendations from its new animal control advisory council.

The vote to table came after both a recommendation from Mayor Bill Hastings and a contentious council discussion.

Mayors in Katy do not vote on council agenda items. Hastings said he has never spoken either in favor or against a particular agenda item, but he felt a written plan was needed for the animal control department.

“We need to know exactly what is truly needed,” Hastings said. “Seven thousand dollars is not a lot of money, but this program may be more than $7,000.”

When the council might see such a plan was not immediately certain. Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member-at-Large Chris Harris suggested that the panel could submit a final report by the council’s June 14 meeting, but others expressed concerns whether the panel would be finished by then.

The advisory panel is comprised of volunteer members recommended by council members. The panel does not set policy, so its meetings are not public. The city administration and council would have to act on any recommendations.

Hastings said each council member could speak directly to their panel member for updates. Going forward, a member of the city secretary’s staff will keep minutes of those meetings. Police Chief Noe Diaz said the panel has met three times already. The police department has oversight authority over the animal control department.

Hastings said he saw no issue in allowing the panel the time it needed to make its recommendations.

“We want a full, comprehensive report on what this project is going to be and what it will cost,” Hastings said. “They care about what’s going on as much as we do.”

Hastings said a “lot of emails” have gone back and forth on the issue, and has been a popular social media topic, but he added that many of those people offering their views were not in or from the city.

Ward B Council Members Rory Robertson and Jenifer Jordan Stockdick disagreed the idea of tabling the proposal. They made the proposal at the April 12 council meeting, and argued for its adoption Monday.

“We’re making sure they (animal control department staff) have the money to do what they need,” Robertson said. “We know there have been forces out there trying to drive a wedge. We’re all for waiting for committee’s report.”

Ward A Council Member Janet Corte, who moved to table the proposal, and Ward A Council Member Dusty Thiele, expressed concerns, especially when the panel was being asked to provide recommendations.

“There’s nothing in writing here,” Thiele said.

The council did authorize one change, albeit a minor one, from the proposal. The “animal disposal” budget line item was changed to “disposal services.”

Diaz gave an animal control department update Monday. He said no animals were in the shelter, and a planned pet registration day has been set for next month.

“We have a lot of responsible pet owners in the community,” Diaz said. “Losse pets are being caught and returned to their families.”

Diaz said the department has also purchased a body camera for the use of animal control officers who must rescue an animal. Harris said he hoped the city would purchase two more such cameras, which cost approximately $300. Both Hastings and City Attorney Art Pertile said they would both donate a camera.

Harris, while praising Diaz for a “positive report,” said Monday’s meeting was his “least favorite” since being elected to the council.

“It’s sad it’s come down to this,” Harris said. “There’s absolutely nobody up here that’s going to get everything you want. This has not been a fun meeting.”

Other Actions Taken

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Issued a proclamation recognizing May 2-8 as Professional Municipal Clerks Week.
  • Issued a proclamation recognizing May 3-7 as Teacher Appreciation Week.
  • Reviewed the city’s second quarter financial and investment report through March 31.
  • Annexed a 24.6-acre tract into the West Ten Business Park Planned Development District.
  • Denied a special use permit for a junk/salvage area or yard at Katy Scrap Metal, 27239 Highway Blvd. The city’s planning and zoning commission denied the permit request on April 19.
  • Approved the minutes for the February 2, February 8, and February 12 meetings.
  • Cancelled the May 10 and 24 meetings.
  • Set a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. on May 17.
  • Approved a $3,405 annual dues payment to the Texas Municipal League.
  • Approved street closures for Katy Monthly Market Days, set for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the third Saturday of May, June, July, August, September, October, and November. Closures on those dates are Avenue B from 2nd to 3rd Street, Avenue C from 2nd Street to 3rd Street, and 2nd Street from Avenue B to Avenue C.
  • Approved street closures for the 2021 Katy Old Fashioned Christmas Event, set for December 4. Closures on that date are 2nd Street between Avenue A and Avenue D, 3rd Street between Avenue B and Avenue C, Avenue B between 2nd and 3rd Street, and Avenue C between 2nd Street and 3rd Street.
  • Approved a final plat for Cane Island, Section 14, in Waller County.
  • Approved an interim wholesale water supply and emergency interconnect agreement with Waller County Improvement District No. 2.
  • Approved an event planning consulting agreement with Yvonne Arceneaux, DBA Creative Edge Events, to assist the city with event planning, marketing and public relations, and vendor relations.
  • Approved a $79,960 proposal with ARKK Engineers for additional inspection services at a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Approved a $19,500 proposal with Costello Engineering for revising a mitigation pond location at a storm water pump station at a wastewater treatment plant site.