Wilmington mayor against using tax funds for cat TNR program


WILMINGTON — The mayor has made it clear he doesn’t want tax dollars spent on a proposed program to address the unowned, outdoor cat population in town.

City council held a second reading Thursday on a resolution expressing support for a Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program meant to help control the population of what often are called community cats. Section 2 of the resolution states that Wilmington City Council pledges to provide financial support to a TNR program in its first year.

During discussion of the issue at council’s meeting this week, Mayor John Stanforth said he “will have a hard time spending taxpayer dollars on this,” adding he would however be willing to assist, for example, by offering storage space for the traps.

“But it’s going to have to be a volunteer-run organization. We can help with some of the coordination of that,” said Stanforth.

Councilman and Judiciary Committee Chair Matt Purkey was leading the TNR program discussion, noting there is a potential for grant funds and an effort being made to partner with a Fayette County group to help get the program going. He responded after the mayor commented “but I am going to struggle with tax expenditures.”

Purkey said, “That’s one of the reasons why we don’t want to put money [amounts] on the table. We don’t know yet, right?”

Stanforth replied, “But I do know. I do. That’s my whole point in saying this. I’m going to struggle with spending the [tax] dollars. I can do other things. So that’s the way we need to organize this, all right?”

Purkey followed up by saying that because of the possibility of grant dollars, the process of creating and carrying out a program needs to be further along before they can talk with confidence about costs and the like.

Earlier, Purkey said community education is going to be the most critical piece — helping people understand how TNR works.

The issue of community cats is something that’s very important to a lot of Wilmington citizens, he added.

“We want to make sure we do all of our due diligence to make sure we’re implementing something in the proper way. The biggest part will be corralling the volunteers and educating the public,” said Purkey.

In part the TNR resolution states: “the program will be administered from the Office of the Director of Public Safety and will utilize a network of community volunteers who will be tasked with the responsible care and feeding of feral and community cats, trapping and transporting felines for spay and neuter surgery, and returning said felines to their community.”

Council members are expected to vote at their next meeting Aug. 18 whether to pass the resolution.

If council passes the measure, the mayor can veto the legislation and it would take two-thirds of all members of council to override the mayor’s veto.

In action taken by council Thursday, members passed legislation to place a traffic light at the intersection of Rombach Avenue and Elizabeth Lane. A traffic study, funded by Kettering Health, indicates a light will be needed there due to the Kettering Health medical center being built along Rombach.

Formerly there was a traffic light at the site, but it was taken down after traffic engineers found it was not warranted. That’s because at the time of that particular traffic study, the one development located there was a bank, said Wilmington Director of Public Service and Safety Brian Shidaker.

The city’s traffic engineers have now reviewed the study funded by Kettering Health and concluded the intersection does warrant a traffic light, according to Shidaker.

The goal is to have the traffic light up and running prior to Kettering Health opening and working at full capacity, he said. But supply chain issues, specifically with the poles for the new traffic signal, are a concern.

“We’re up against the clock here,” Shidaker said.

A member of the public, pointing to the cost to taxpayers, asked whether a light was really needed at the intersection.

Mayor Stanforth said, “I don’t think we can argue with a traffic study.”

Also during the meeting, Purkey announced he’s learned there are plans to name a new cul-de-sac in the Timber Glen subdivision Evers Way or Evers Court in honor of the late Dan Evers, the Clinton County Port Authority executive director who died in June.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/08/web1_purkey_c.jpgPurkey Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/08/web1_shidaker_c.jpgShidaker Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

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