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Council Recommends Increasing Avon-Canton Animal Control Officer's Pay [Update, Feb. 13, 4:03 p.m.]

The towns of Avon and Canton contract out to Beverly LaPlume, of Unionville, for animal control services.

The town plans on extending its animal control officer's contract by at least one year and the Town Council has recommended increasing Avon's contribution to her pay by $2,200.

Canton has also agreed to the extension, Town Council Chairman Mark Zacchio wrote to Patch in an email.

Beverly LaPlume has been Avon's animal control officer for about seven years and her most recent contract is set to expire June 30. However, her agreement with the town allows for a one-year extension at the amount she's currently being paid, Avon Town Manager Brandon Robertson reported to the council in the agenda packet for the Feb. 7 meeting.

LaPlume, who the towns of Avon and Canton contract for animal control services, requested the raise because of the "amount of hours and training required to satisfactorily perform the responsibilities of the position," Robertson said. Her total contract for next year, once finalized, would include a 7 percent increase, or $3,780 combined, bringing the total Avon-Canton contract payout to $57,780 for the next fiscal year pending 2013-14 budget approval, according to Zacchio.

The total contract for animal control services in 2012-13 amounted to about $54,000, Zacchio said. That's a combined $4,500 a month from Avon and Canton, Robertson said. Avon pays 64 percent of it and Canton covers the remaining 36 percent, meaning about $34,560 for Avon and about $19,440 in the current fiscal year. If approved on next year's budget and the allocation for each town stays the same, Avon would pay about $36,979 and Canton would contribute about $20,801 for animal control services by that calculation.

As a contractor, LaPlume pays federal and state taxes on what she makes for animal control services "based on whatever her income situation is," Zacchio confirmed Wednesday.

Robertson stressed in an email to Patch Wednesday that the role of municipal animal control officer is a contracted position and that the contractor is not a town employee.

"The Contractor does not receive a salary and does not receive over time. The Contractor is responsible for any tax liability – not the Town," Robertson wrote in an email to Patch. 

As part of LaPlume's agreement with Avon and Canton as animal control contractor, she is required "to respond to calls between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, including holidays," Robertson wrote to Patch in an email Wednesday. The present contract "anticipated an average workweek of 20-30 hours," Robertson said.

"In reality-more time is required to adequately perform the duties of the position," Robertson said. 

The town plans "to issue a request for proposals in the fall," meaning the town will review different bids for the position, Robertson said.

"Going to RFP is required for any new contract, and yes, assuming Beverly wants to do it again, her bid will be in the running," Zacchio said. "She has an excellent reputation with both towns, does an extremely good job and has been a great asset for us."

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 4:03 p.m. to add updated information from Town Manager Brandon Robertson.

Jessie Sawyer February 13, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Upon request, the animal control officer gave me the estimate that she pays about $20,000 a year in federal and state income taxes, to answer your questions. Please keep in mind that since she is a contractor that is not public information and is between her and her accountant, but she allowed me to share it. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Jessie Sawyer February 13, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Here's further information on the contract that Town Manager Brandon Robertson sent me in an email today. "It is important to keep in mind that the Municipal Animal Control Officer 'MACO' is not an employee. The Contractor does not receive a salary and does not receive over time. The Contractor is responsible for any tax liability-not the Town. The Contractor is compensated in the amount of $4,500 per month. This amount is shared between Avon (64%) and Canton (36%). "At a minimum-the Contractor is to respond to calls between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, including Holidays. The Contract anticipated an average workweek of 20-30 hours. In reality-more time is required to adequately perform the duties of the position." So, while the contract anticipated a 20 to 30 hour work week, the job required working longer hours than that. That's why the town manager and then the Town Council recommended the increase in the combined contract. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Liz Lukas February 13, 2013 at 09:59 PM
well after some poking and prodding, a picture emerges that starts to make sense - mostly from the Town Manager email. The "50 hour" is really just the times of the day/days of the week, that the MACO is supposed to respond to calls. It's not really a 50 hour work schedule. And it makes sense that the 20-30 hour estimated time responding to calls may actual be higher, but I'm still right to note that it is not likely that the estimated time was more than 100% wrong (meaning, the MACO is working something more than 20-30, but probably less than 50, even though she is on-call. As for taxes - that is purely an individual matter and probably a distraction from assessment of this contract. It is instead, as the reporter noted, important that the MACO gets not other benefits or costs under the agreement.
Jessie Sawyer February 14, 2013 at 12:03 AM
MJ, The point of the original article was to simply inform the public about the increase recommended to the contract, the one-year extension and the fact that the town is putting out a request for proposals in the fall as discussed at the Town Council meeting. However, when my readers have questions, I do the best to find answers for them and update stories with any relevant new information that adds value to the story. When I do, I note the date and time of the update in the article. Yes, readers could look into their questions themselves, but I care very much about the information that's important to them, so I spent almost all day answering a non-stop stream of questions when I had a lot of other work to do. I wish I could predict every question my readers would want to know, but until then, it's my job to boil down the most essential facts. Never hesitate to email me with your questions, concerns, news tips or ideas and I'd be happy to sit down with you to talk about the site. Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com. Thank you for reading Avon Patch! Respectfully, Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Jessie Sawyer February 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Hey folks, The comments have strayed off topic, so this comment stream has been closed. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch

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