Brookhaven Public Hearing
Sue Hansen, Rocky Point
Nov. 6, 2014

I am here today to draw attention to the Animal Shelter budget.
I had planned on using a visual aid to summarize and highlight the direction we are going in.
I put together a very simple but revealing chart to be displayed on the large overhead monitor, for everyone to follow along.

Originally, I was told that anything displayed on the monitor had to be approved first.
However, once my chart was submitted, the policy quickly changed from “needing approval” to “not permitted”.

It was a basic illustration of budget funds in 2014 compared to 2015. It was purely factual and without subjectivity.

Supervisor Romaine, I would ask you to reconsider your policy, in the spirit of open government and support the right of the public to express their concerns publicly, without censorship, including the use of technology paid for by tax dollars.

If anyone would like to view the banned display, it can be accessed online, at www.abettershelter.com.

What I am about to discuss is NOT to be construed as criticism of the shelter staff, many of whom are diligent, hard working, caring and compassionate. Rather, I am pursuing what I believe is in the best interest of the shelter, animals and the community.

And these are the facts.

The Shelter budget is $2.47M/yr. Up from the adjusted 2014 budget of $2.34M.

Employee costs have risen. And nearly everything else has been cut. This includes medical supplies, veterinary care, spay neutering costs and equipment.

Employee salaries and benefits make up 89% of the total budget, or $2.2M. S/N on the other hand, is four tenths of one percent, or $10K.

The "problem" is the municipal system. It is broken. It's not anyone's fault. No one person is to blame. But the "municipal shelter" has evolved into an institution that unfortunately, does not address the root cause of homeless pets and overcrowded shelters. It simply maintains a perpetual problem.

There are some who would argue that addressing the root cause of homeless pets is not the town's responsibility. That they cannot be responsible for Spaying/Neutering Brookhaven's cats and dogs. Or that they are doing the best they can. And do you know what? They are right!

Because legally, a municipality is just required to pick up stray dogs. And financially, civil service contracts mandate salaries and benefits which make up the lion's share of the budget. And, as a result, there is little to nothing left for S/N, other community services, programs, education or advertising.

And this is EXACTLY why it has to change!

The shelter as a municipal entity is the problem. And privatization is the solution.

Privatization is not a panacea. And even when privatized, change will not happen overnight. But privatization will enable a restructuring that will be more effective, efficient and provide more services, all at a lower cost.

Some claim, “No organization is big enough to take it on” or “No organization is interested”. These claims are unfounded. It can be done. But it will take work. And commitment. Like any large problem, it will not be solved with a passive approach.

With that said, I would like to add “ Privatization ” to the 2015 Animal Shelter Departmental Goals.

Supervisor Romaine has expressed support for privatization in the past, but there is no activity in pursuit of it. One of my main concerns is that his term of office will end with this goal unfulfilled. And the next administration may not consider it at all.

The Supervisor has requested the Commission of General Services, who oversees the shelter, Martin Haley to contact me, which he has. I hope to discuss this with him in the weeks and months ahead and develop a plan that will better serve the shelter, animals and the community.

I hope I can count on the Town Board's support.