Humane Society Raises Animal Control Fee to Pasadena by $600,000 Per Year

Published : Monday, September 30, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Pasadena’s animal control bill could increase by more than 60 percent annually, according to a City official.

The city currently pays about $1.15 million per year, according to a 2015 contract.

“City officials did meet with the new CEO of the Humane Society who arrived in Pasadena from … Virginia a few months ago,” said City spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “She requested an increase in cost of an additional 60% over the present amount, with no increase in services.”

The Society’s new chief, Dia DuVernet, said that a cost analysis performed by an outside accounting firm justifies the rate hike.

“We spend almost all of our $13 million budget providing services to the cities we are contracted to serve. However, under the current contracts, the fees cover less than 25 percent of our budget,” DuVernet said in a written statement earlier this month.

The analysis motivated the rate hikes, she indicated.

But according to documents, the organization is not hurting for money.

An IRS filing for the Society covering 2017 obtained by Pasadena Now reported revenue of $12.7 million and expenses of $10.7 million.

“We noted to her that the public filings of the PH [Pasadena Humane Society] show a surplus of revenue over expenses for several years and questioned why the need for so large an increase in one year,” Derderian said.

According to Derderian, the City requested the full study conducted by the Humane Society with all of the data and assumptions that justify the fee increase.

The Pasadena Humane Society performs animal control services for 11 cities in the San Gabriel Valley. Most of those cities similarly have been served with fee increases.

Earlier this month city managers from several of those cities, including Pasadena’s Steve Mermell, demanded a meeting after the Society started increasing fees by enormous amounts, shocking them.

Arcadia would be forced to pay $525,000 instead of the $90,000 it has paid for almost thirty years. La Cañada-Flintridge absorbed a smaller, but still significant, increase from $40,000 to $146,000. Bradbury’s bill for animal-related services went from $4,700 to $20,415.

The city managers fumed their efforts to get answers about recent cost increases of up to 500% “have not been fruitful” and accused the Society of avoiding transparency.

A September 11 letter outlining their concerns was signed by city managers for Arcadia, Bradbury, La Cañada-Flintridge, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

For decades the Pasadena Humane Society has been the mainstay in the West San Gabriel Valley for animal control and welfare services. Pasadena first retained the Society in 1904.

“The Humane Society has played the official role of poundmaster for the city and assumed a quasi-governmental role in its service delivery, so we know there will be transparency in negotiating the final amount of fees,” Derderian said. “We have also asked for variation in services delivered to see if some changes can make them more affordable. We look forward to future discussions as we forge the next century of the relationship.”