Changes to dog licensing could cause confusion

LISBON -Dog owners will soon be able to purchase their licenses for up to three years in advance or more, and that worries Columbiana County Auditor Nancy Milliken.

She said the recently passed state budget includes a provision requiring counties to offer not only one-year licenses but three-year licenses and permanent licenses. County commissioners must decide before Aug. 31 on a fee structure for the new licensing options, which take effect starting in 2014.

A one-year license currently cost $8, and about 25,000 licenses are sold annually, making it by far the largest source of operating revenue for the self-funded county dog pound/dog warden office, which has a 2013 budget of $225,000.

Milliken is concerned about the potential impact the licensing plan would have on on dog pound/dog warden operations, especially if a significant number of dog owners opt for the three-year or permanent license. She said this might mean less money from year to year and make it harder to plan a budget.

“I’m concerned about the impact on the dog pound’s income. They’re used to getting (a set amount) annually,” Milliken said.

Higher fees for licenses could further discourage owners from purchasing licenses. “It’s hard enough to get people to buy a dog license at $8, let alone charging them more money,” she said.

Another concern is the cost to the auditor’s office, which processes and helps issue dog licenses. Milliken said the changes will likely require they acquire a new software operating program for issuing and processing the new licenses.