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Shelter to shut! Council axes RSPCA as pound provider

RSPCA Victoria has lost the contract to run Glenelg Shire pound services, which will bring to an end more than 14 years of running the Portland animal shelter.

Councillors voted unanimously on Tuesday night not to accept a tender from the RSPCA to operate the pound service from the RSPCA-owned Darts Rd shelter, one which would have seen the cost to ratepayers rise about 15 per cent to more than $400,000 a year.

The council will now move to work with the RSPCA over the next 12 months to transition to another service, whether operated directly by the council or in conjunction with other local governments.

It was a blow for the RSPCA, the only tenderer to run the service, which has been established with its purpose-built Darts Rd facility since 2006.

The RSPCA was unable to provide a response to the Observer before deadline.

However a report by council officers said the RSPCA tender “significantly exceeds the minimum legal obligations of the council”.

“The RSPCA has adopted a full cost recovery model which has created a significant division in regard to what (the council) requires under the contract and what services the RSPCA has provided,” the report says.

“Consequently this… has led to several councils who previously contracted these services return to in-house pound services.”

The RSPCA had confirmed “that they are not in a position to provide only the services specified”.

Councillors backed the recommendation to not award the tender.

Cr Gilbert Wilson said that “it pains me to support this motion”.

“However I do believe that this council must be prudent with its financial position,” he said.

“The pound service is a directive that each local government needs to provide its (communities), however the services which have been fantastic at the RSPCA are well and truly above and beyond just a pound.”

The RSPCA tender was “too high for this council to even entertain discussing and trying to whittle them down”.

“I say that with a heavy heart because (in 2016) when we were at this point I was strongly on the RSPCA’s side in support,” Cr Wilson said.

At that time the council originally decided not to renew the contract after the RSPCA asked for more money, with council chief executive Greg Burgoyne saying at the time it was a 400 per cent increase.

However a few weeks later, following a public outcry, the two parties came to an agreement on a two-year contract, which was renewed in 2018.

FULL STORY IN FRIDAY'S OBSERVER

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