The Mayor's Blog
Animal House Fund
For years, public documents in the city, including some bills, have included options to collect money on behalf of a variety of good causes. The funds listed on the bills are authorized by ordinance and held in accounts administered by the city Comptroller. The accounts are subject to the usual sorts of internal and external auditing procedures.
A former aldermanic president was a strong proponent of an effort to construct a new animal care and control facility for the City of St. Louis. Knowing that the city’s budget was unlikely to ever allow that, he worked tirelessly with a private group of big-hearted regional citizens to create “Animal House,” a modest new facility that would offer better services. Included in his effort to construct the facility was an ordinance creating a city Animal House fund to accept donations. The primary collection mechanism for the fund was a donation box on the city’s water bills.
Animal House, however, never got much further than a couple of sets of plans. Sluggish private fund raising, sharply increased estimates of a facility’s costs, difficulty in finding an acceptable location, and an urgency to address the generally inhumane treatment of animals in the city’s obsolete Animal Control building eventually sent the city in another direction.
And that leaves the Animal House Fund, from which no money has ever been spent, sitting in an account; and it leaves the now un-purposed donation check-box on water bills as required by ordinance. Over the years, donations have slowed to a trickle, but there are still a few of them.
Some groups have asked that the money be spent on other projects. After speaking to the city’s law department and thinking about it, I generally disagree. Donations collected from generous city residents for permanent improvements in the care of animals in the city should be spent for that purpose or else the money should be returned. In any case, the ordinance should be revoked.