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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.

Truth Skr February 12, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Grace I don't see you posting your FULL name. Did you know that if you post your real name in FULL - people get even more nasty and leave you phone messages and send you vile emails? Or the town official you criticize gets even nastier Post your full name if you want. I commented on the article - she does not need a raise and in the opinion of some she does a poor job depending who you are and how she decided to treat you.
Truth Skr February 12, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Complaints to the town are ignored. A lot of people do not think she does a good job, but don't dare speak up because she and others in town service WILL remember you and will find a way to get back at you.
Truth Skr February 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM
None of us said our dogs run loose and you are ASSUMING we are irresponsible and let our dogs bother others. Perhaps some of us don't even own a dog but have neighbors who do and whom we have complained about for running loose, barking all night lone, tied outside, left in hot cars in parking lots, only to have NOTHING done and/or to have the officer tell the dog owners that the complainers are just complainers who cause trouble all the time.
Truth Skr February 12, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Grace, TJ ,MJ and Sue B - why don't you use you full real names? At least Annie Oakley was a straightshooter.
Truth Skr February 12, 2013 at 02:57 PM
How are we off track? You say she does a great job and some of us have a different experience and opinion. Are we off track because we differ?
One Eye Bart February 12, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Annie Oakley may be a straight shooter, but sounds like Annie Oakley has no experience with animals or dogs! Just sayin...
Dorson February 12, 2013 at 07:19 PM
To Annie Oakley....boo hoo sniffle sniffle! You're not always going to like or agree with everyone in life, so get over it and move on. In just about any position, people are going to have opinions and either feel someone does a good job or a bad job or whatever, so just ride off into the sunset already. PS: Annie Oakley was also an exhibition shooter, so perhaps that's why you chose her so you could be an exhibitionist here on the Patch!!!
Susan Bruno February 13, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Annie Oakley we are off track because the article was about beverl'y compensation, not her competence. Did you even bother to read?
Thomas February 13, 2013 at 01:32 PM
TJ - if by some chance you see this, please change your notification e-mail address in your settings. This site obviously lets you sign up with any email address and you used mine. Please correct this as I assume it was an accident. thank you, Thomas
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 02:35 PM
SueB As a taxpayer I would like to believe that compensation and pay raises would be tied to job performance. Therefore I am not off track. Salary increase + Job Performance should be tied in. Your comment "Did you bother even bother to read?" Answer : Yes. I read that you wrote "But who among us is getting a 7% pay increase? Those days are gone" So you disagree that a pay raise is in order? Dorson - why can some of you say how you feel/think, yet attack people who disagree? Do you have a clue why people don't use their full or real names. Some mean people in our towns
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Cute name. Clever!
One Eye Bart February 13, 2013 at 03:06 PM
I made a call this morning to the town office and discovered some interesting information that I need to enlighten you all with! This position covers two towns: Avon and Canton so even with an increase the position makes $28,890 per town. I was also told that since this is a contract position it does not have benefits such as medical, dental, paid time off, etc. and that any taxes have to be paid out of this salary. I'm no finance professional but when I do the match it doesn't leave much of a salary now does it? For those of you complaining about performance it was said earlier that if the town felt her performance was sub par I doubt they'd retain her for seven years. This seems to be one of those thankless positions that your damned if you do and damned if you don't. Like Dorson said not everyone is going to agree with what everyone does all of the time. This position is no different from law enforcement. I'm sure there are a number of cops that are hated because of tickets they give out or people they arrest. Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion but if you'd remember to do your homework before complaining about this and that then perhaps you'd too be able to educate yourself the way I did by making one phone call.
Karen Lava February 13, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Yes Annie Oakley you are a mean person that lives in our town and chooses to hid behind a fake name and badger the excellent service that this animal control officer has provided. We have never experienced what it was like to have an animal control officer so dedicated to the animals and people in these towns before which is why they didn't make it to seven years of service. If any one in town is mean I think you should look in the mirror but then you may have seven years bad luck!!!! Your comments are very vindictive and personal to everyone here and toward a person that is doing a great job. Try not to erupt over the littlest things all the time. If you have something worthwhile to comment about, then great, but so far, all we've seen is a great day of ash.
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Hey folks, try to stay on topic and avoid personal attacks. Violations of our terms of service will be removed. It's okay to state your opinions, but please be respectful. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 06:08 PM
One Eye Bart, Thanks for making the call to learn more about the contract. I wanted to clarify some things you said. It wouldn't be $28,890 per town because Canton is smaller and requires less calls, so it isn't divided evenly. As reported, the animal control officer for the two towns is a contractor, not a full-time employee, so you are correct on that. Avon contributes 64% of the total salary paid out (the combined amount is $54,000 for this year and would increase to $57,780 in 2013-14). I updated the story to clarify that the raise is pending 2013-14 budget approval. Based on the 64% and 36% breakdown, I calculated that Avon is currently paying about $34,560 for Avon and Canton is contributing $19,440. If the budget passes with the contractor's pay increase, Avon would pay about $36,979 and Canton would contribute $20,801 in 2013-14. I added that to the story. As for your comment about the contractor paying her own taxes on that salary rather than the town taking tax money out, I believe you're correct. I'm checking with town officials for confirmation on this and inquired about how much of that the contractor has to pay in taxes. Thanks for reading Avon Patch! Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 06:36 PM
I got confirmation that the animal control contractor pays about $20,000 a year in federal and state taxes on the combined Avon-Canton salary, to answer your question. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 07:52 PM
It's also important to note that while the animal control officer does not work full-time for the town and is a contractor, she works about 50 hours a week. She is on duty 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, not including possible emergency calls on weekends. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Liz Lukas February 13, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Again, imprecision in the follow-on reporting. A total of amount of 50 hours a week exceeds a normal full-time schedule, so how is this not full-time work? Her status as a contractor does not mean she does not work full-time to fulfill the services under the contract. Is the source, by any chance, the animal control officer herself? If so, this should be made absolutely clear. If the source is the contract or a Town representative, again, this should be made clear.
Liz Lukas February 13, 2013 at 08:04 PM
There's some imprecision here. If the contractor pays her own taxes, what is your source for the $20,000 number? The Towns would not know her total income. That number can only be determined based on knowing the contractor's other income in order to determine applicable tax rate. If she drew money from a trust fund, or her other business interests, her total income could be much higher. Conversely, if she has high deductibles and no income, the taxes paid would be much lower. Either way, the matter of taxes has little bearing on the contract cost. But I think the follow-up reporting here is bit cloudy.
Liz Lukas February 13, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Another observation is that the number of hours should have been in the original article, as it is a key fact relevant to reporting on what the contracted services actually cover. Nothing personal, but this has not been good news reporting.
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 08:37 PM
The animal control officer is a contractor and is not a town employee, so that's what I mean when I say she's not a full-time employee. I'm answering these questions in the comments in response to the requests that have come in for more information. I've also been updating the story as needed with the updates I've gotten from town officials. Thanks for reading Avon Patch! Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 08:50 PM
I already knew all of that when I first commented. Had already done my research. "Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion..." Do the haters always have to come out if they don't like a person's position. Some mean comments here. As Bart said " I'm sure there are a number of cops that are hated because of tickets they give out or people they arrest. " Why crucify people if they don't agree with you? Not necessary Karen
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM
As for being a contractor who has to pay own taxes etc - that is her personal choice to accept a position full well knowing what she is being paid and what she needs to pay out in taxes, no sick time etc. A lot of people have the same type of situation. I believe she also has a Old Tyme Candle business highlighted in Patch and a spouse who may or may not be working. Point is - we should give a raise because as a contractor her salary is not what she would like it to be? Give her the raise - it's a done deal anyway - no one else will get the bid - not worth it for persons interested to even put one in. Laplume is in until she decides to quit. Towns are not going to award the bid to anyone else....
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Good points Liz. Unless someone wants to show us her Income Tax filings, how do we know what she pays in taxes. I make same as her and pay $10K a year in taxes. I suspect her other incomes deductions etc factor in if she really is paying $20K a year. Not sure I trust the source.
Truth Skr February 13, 2013 at 09:24 PM
I'm sorry is this your real name? I could not find you anywhere in the area. Perhaps you too are using a pseudonym? Very nasty response from a person calling me mean. Which town have you decided I live in? I think some of you protest too much...
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) 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 (Editor) 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 (Editor) 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 (Editor) 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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