County's Proposed Dog Ordinance All Bark, No Bite

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Ask Gila County residents how they feel about barking dogs and you'll get plenty of feedback more than 100 minutes worth, to be precise.

That's what happened when the Gila County Board of Supervisors asked for "comments pro and con" on the proposed barking and leash ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday in Globe. Twenty-one people took the opportunity to make their feelings and opinions known 12 in favor of the ordinance and nine either opposed or seeking clarification.

"It was things like who will decide how much barking is too much, and whether cattle dogs and hunting dogs would be included," said Janice Cook, administrative services manager for Gila County. "It just went on and on and on."

While a leash law was implemented in District 1 several years ago, similar regulations are spotty in the rest of the county.

"There are sections that have an ordinance and sections that don't in the other two districts," Gila County Administrator Steve Besich, said. "The health department received a number of complaints, and that convinced us we need to take a countywide approach."

Besides requiring that dogs be confined or on a leash, the ordinance also prohibits excessive barking. Working ranch animals are excluded from the ordinance.

The board has scheduled no further action on the ordinance.

"Now that they have public comments, they are taking the matter under advisement," Cook said.

In other action, the board approved a conditional use permit for Starbridge Communications to construct a 150-foot lattice wireless communication tower in Jake's Corner, but denied a permit for a private brush and tree disposal facility in Star Valley because it would be located in a residential area.

Finance Director John Nelson reports that the county will receive $1,498,572 from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, its share of $199 million paid to approximately 1,900 local governments to offset lost tax revenues due to tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions.

The annual payment, made in accordance with the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act, is up from a little more than $1 million a year ago. While that's good news, Nelson said the U.S. Congress, which approves the amount to be paid out, never comes close to fully funding the program.

The money, which goes into the county's general fund, will help offset a decline in sales tax revenue due to the weakening economy. So far this year, actual sales tax revenues are down about 3.5 percent from projections, Nelson said, and are "probably not going to get any better. That could end up costing us $200,000 to $250,000."

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