Doggie DNA tests won’t cost the taxpayers

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Everyone has been talking about Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation’s decision to use DNA testing on dog waste to ensure that owners pick up after their pets at the new dog parking opening this month. Some people just think it’s funny. Others think it’s unnecessary and extreme. And others think it’s a good idea that will deter dog owners from being lazy about waste.

The question always comes up, “How much is this going to cost the taxpayer?”

Turns out, it won’t cost them anything. Users of the dog park will pay for the cost.

One Carmel citizen pointed out this concern and I promised I would look into it. Here’s what I found.

In a recent list of claims approved by the Carmel City Council, there was an amount listed: $11,525.50 for “Poo Prints,” dated July 28. This is the company hired to help conduct the doggie DNA tests.

Is the city of Carmel paying for this or Carmel Clay Parks? What does this money represent?

I know with the Zagster bike share program, there was a one-time set-up fee of $8,600 that’s separate from the ongoing operational expenses. Was this similar?

I received the complete invoice from the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office and it made sense.

The $39.95 was previously announced as a fee that would be charged to every new member of the dog park when they sign up. It was also said that initial membership would be capped at around 250, so the 275 number makes sense, given there will be some turnover. So in essence,  every time someone signs up for membership, these costs are repaid and Parks Director Mark Westermeier said he expects to reach the 250 dog capacity very quickly after launch, if not immediately.

But where does the initial up from $11,000 plus come from? Westermeier explained in an e-mail that the money has been borrowed from the Monon Community Center’s account, which operates essentially revenue neutral instead of relying on tax subsidies.

A new account was actually set up so in the future the revenue from the Bark Park and the Monon Center will be kept separate.

“As to the PooPrints we did order supplies for stock and in preparation for the opening of the dog park,” Westermeier said in an e-mail. “Ultimately the revenues and expenses for the Bark Park, shelter rentals, and Wilfong Pavilion will be handled through the new Parks Department 110 fund.  Up until this month funds for those properties have been going into the Monon Community Center (MCC) 109 fund.  The PooPrints purchase was funded by the MCC 109 fund and once we receive revenues from the dog park registration on August 22nd, the MCC funds expended will be reimbursed.  Any additional funds received above the reimbursed amount will be placed in the new 110 fund.  We created the 110 fund to insure that our revenues and expenses are not buried within a larger fund and are easy to properly account for.”


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