Four New London County towns are looking into tying together their animal control facilities as budget cuts continue.
The towns of New London, Waterford, East Lyme and Montville entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to start looking into sharing the costs and operations.
Animals would be housed at the new Bates Wood Park building that was rebuilt after a tree destroyed it during Superstorm Sandy.
"We can’t just simply protect our own turf. We have to start sharing services in order to basically survive and still be able to provide those services to our taxpayers," New London Mayor Michael Passero said.
Animals from Waterford and East Lyme are already at the New London facility because the water froze in the Waterford building this winter. Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward said his town has already been working with and housing East Lyme animals for about 50 years.
The towns are looking for a cost estimate on the regionalization and attorneys from all four communities are working on an interlocal agreement, according to Steward.
"Interlocal agreements are very difficult. Which is part of what causes us to have agita with regionalization because it’s all about who’s going to do what. Who’s going to pay what bill and how’s it all going to work," Steward said.
Steward said his town has looked into other sites before but state agreements never came to fruition. The town raised over $200,000 to build a new facility. That money would be directed toward the New London facility to help expand the kennel run, he added.
"We figured that this would be an opportunity to all get a quality, up to standards, up to code facility and share cost and share the work," Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said.
McDaniel said his animal control facility requires hundreds of thousands of dollars of work to be brought up to code.
The cost or savings of regionalizing haven’t been punched out, yet. Steward said it might not pocket him much money, but he and Passero said it will save a lot when it comes to helping the community in a job where someone needs to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We’ve called animal control and no one’s around because they don’t have a lot of hours so we’ve had to call the police," Karen Stewart, who lives in the Oakdale section of Montville, said.
In tune with sharing services, Passero said he and Steward are in talks of having their towns share dispatch services in Waterford.