Cushion The Blow

AWL to tap into dog tax fees for budget shortfall

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The Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County will tap in to dog tax fees to shore up the agency’s budget.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, AWL is on track to end the year about $45,000 in the red, board president Sam Hildebrand said. But much of that shortfall will be made up with a $42,000 personal protective equipment loan that the organization is working to have turned in to a grant, he added.

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved AWL’s request for $7,000 from the dog tax fund, which canine owners are required to pay in to each year.

That infusion of cash will help cushion the blow from canceled fundraising events and a drop in donations amid the pandemic.

AWL has brought in a little more than half of its fundraising budget this year, Hildebrand said. It is about $10,000 short of its $75,000 donation goal.

The dog tax request leaves $965 remaining in the fund to be used through June, county auditor Jennifer Andel said. The county only receives a “very small amount” of dog tax payments in the December cycle, she added.

Forms are mailed out with property tax bills every spring and due by Nov. 11, the deadline for the fall installment of real estate taxes.

Part of the $5 per adult dog fee goes to Purdue University’s canine research and education. The county uses the rest for animal care facilities, animal control and dead animal disposal, along with reimbursing farmers for livestock kills and reimbursing people treated for rabies.

The tax’s name — State of Indiana County Option Dog Tax — often leads dog owners to believe that paying the tax isn’t required.

“The option is that the county can wage a dog tax, not that an individual can pay it,” councilman Gary Booth said. “If you own a dog, you should pay the tax.”

County treasurer Heather Laffoon said the county does not have the authority to change the name of the tax.

“We advertise twice a year that it’s not an option,” she said. “It’s a state form that say it’s a county option for a dog tax … We can’t use another form to take the word option off.”

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