Waller County considers Brookshire animal control agreement

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 4/27/21

The Waller County Commissioners Court tabled consideration of an agreement between the county and the city of Brookshire which would have seen Brookshire paying $500 per month plus boarding and care …

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Waller County considers Brookshire animal control agreement

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The Waller County Commissioners Court tabled consideration of an agreement between the county and the city of Brookshire which would have seen Brookshire paying $500 per month plus boarding and care fees for the county to provide animal control services to the city. Commissioners expressed concern that the costs would exceed the amount paid by the city and doubt that Brookshire City Council would address animal control improvements in a timely manner.

“If we say (the agreement goes) to the end of the year, your council will wait until the end of the year,” Precinct Four Commissioner Justin Beckendorff said, addressing Brookshire Alderperson Kim Branch who represented Brookshire at the meeting.

Beckendorff also praised Branch for her proactive approach and described her as the defacto animal control person for the city. Branch has long worked with Belle’s Buds Rescue which works to assist the city whenever possible, as well as with other community members to try to address animal control.

Waller County Sheriff Troy Guidry, who oversees animal control in all unincorporated portions of Waller County, said the $500-plus-expenses agreement was not sufficient to cover the costs of the program for his department. He currently has two animal control officers and, especially if other cities throughout the county asked for similar arrangements, the department would need to add more animal control officers in order to meet demand. He estimated that, with benefits and salary, personnel alone could add another $60,000 or more in expenses to his staffing budget.

Beckendorff suggested a temporary, 45-day agreement in place to allow Guidry and Branch to develop a more equitable plan with reasonable costs and fees. However, Guidry objected.

“I say if we’re putting a $500 a month for 45 days (plan in place), we’re in the red on that already, just starting tomorrow,” Guidry said.

Branch, Guidry and the court spoke at length regarding options with Commissioner John Amsler stating that he was concerned that offering animal control services to Brookshire at such a reduced rate would set a precedent for other cities throughout the county.

Commissioner Walter Smith agreed with Amsler and said he felt the price tag for having the county come in to provide animal control services should be higher, even if the rate were set to $20,000 a year rather than $500 per month.

“Commissioner Amsler is right,” Smith said. “Once we do it for one municipality, we’ll have to do it for all of those that request it. Who wouldn’t want to get rid of their animal control problem for $20,000 a year?”

Guidry said that, regardless of costs, the county does need to address animal control in cooperation with municipalities throughout the county because state law may still hold the county liable for any incidences where strays cause injuries or other issues for residents.

County Judge Trey Duhon said that, given the need for the county to address the issue, Guidry should work with Branch and other members of Brookshire City Council to establish a plan with feasible rates. He said that the plan could act as a benchmark for cities that may need the county’s help and establish efficiency in animal control without the county taking on an excessive expense.

Guidry and Branch agreed to work on a plan that would serve the needs of both the county and the city and would bring the item back to commissioners for consideration at a future meeting. Once an agreement is established, it will need to be approved at both the city and county levels.

“I think that’s a fair plan moving forward is to give (Guidry) an opportunity to sit down with Mrs. Branch (and the) city of Brookshire – and you know, at the end of the day … I think there are some efficiencies of scale that can be accomplished, where everybody can get the benefit of having (county help for animal control, but the cost) right now is an arbitrary number.”