No Plan to Capture Licensing Fees
Los Angeles, CA - "We lack funds" is a commonly echoed complaint in animal service departments. In what may be a national trend, it turns out one of the largest agencies in the country, Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), doesn't have their eye on the ball when it comes to collecting licensing fees. These fees are their primary basis of income and ought to be a primary focus.
A recent audit found that the failure of LAAS to license and renew the licenses of hundreds of thousands of dogs in the city has cost the agency millions of dollars in revenue. The report added that LAAS failed to make dog licenses a priority, even though fees collected from those licenses made up more than 70% percent of its revenue in fiscal year 2007-08.
"I really do question how this is not a priority of the department," said City Controller Laura Chick.
Ed Boks, the general manager of LAAS, said he and his staff are in the process of developing a report on dog licensing and will present it to the Los Angeles City Council next month. "I have asked for this audit since my arrival in L.A.," said Boks, who previously oversaw animal shelter operations in New York and Maricopa County, Arizona. The former general manager was ousted.
There are an estimated 400,000 to 800,000 dogs in the city of Los Angeles, but only 123,000 are licensed. About 72% percent of dog owners renewed their pets' licenses in 2006. The next year, that figure dropped to 68% percent, and in the first part of fiscal year 2008, only 64% percent renewed. The failure to follow up on those renewals cost the department about $2 million dollars.
Chick was shocked at the audit results. She said, "I'm sorry, but it takes my breath away to hear management say that dog license fees is not a top priority." To correct the problems cited in the audit, the controller recommended that LAAS work with the city's Office of Finance to examine current penalty fees and the City Attorney's Office regarding delinquent accounts.