Safford to raise dog license fees

Contributed Photo: The city of Safford is raising its dog license fees to a $10 annual charge for spayed or neutered dogs and $25 for those dogs who are not spayed or neutered.

SAFFORD – Owning a dog in Safford just got a little pricier.

The Safford City Council voted 5-2 at its Monday night meeting to double the city’s dog license fee from $5 to $10 per dog. Owners with dogs that are not spayed or neutered will have to pay $25 per license.

Safford Deputy City Clerk Tami Webster gave a presentation to the council on the license increase and said that not only was the city losing money on the $5 per dog charge, it was also breaking a state statute that says a dog license must have an annual cost of at least $10.

“I crunched the numbers and it is costing us more to issue the tags than what we’re making in return on those tags,” Webster said.

Webster said she did a dog license rate fee study using the same cities and towns Safford used to do its employee salary study and found that the average cost of a dog license from the 12 other municipalities was $23.25 per dog. She also reported the other municipalities all use a tiered system.

Webster proposed a tiered system for Safford where service dogs wouldn’t require a fee, senior citizens would pay $10 per dog, residents with spayed or neutered dogs would pay $15 and those with dogs who are not spayed or neutered would have to pay $25. A replacement tag will be $4.

All license fees are to be required annually, while previously the $5 fee was good for three years. The Safford City Code allows up to three dogs per household.

Councilors Arnold Lopez and Richard Ortega both objected to the rate structure but for different reasons.

Lopez balked at the increase and said he wanted to keep it at $5 even if the state legislature requires a $10 minimum. Ortega, on the other hand, felt the $10 fee was too low and wanted everyone to pay at least $15 per dog.

“My idea of getting dog tags is to try to make sure everyone is getting vaccinations,” Lopez said.

Councilor Gene Seale said while he appreciated city staff taking senior citizens in mind when considering the rate structure, he felt everyone with a spayed a neutered dog should pay the $10 fee.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t just have it $10 across the board regardless of age,” Seale said. “We ought to recoup our outlay but it shouldn’t be a profit center.”

He then made a motion to amend the resolution to make it $10 for any dog that is spayed or neutered and $25 for those dogs who are not spayed or neutered. That motion passed 5-2 with Lopez and Ortega voting against the amendment. Lopez and Ortega then both voted in the minority opposition to passing the amended resolution.