The Porterdale City Council moved closer to adopting a new, stricter animal ordinance for the city at Monday night’s council meeting.
Perhaps the most significant change to the town’s pet policy will stem from a mandatory registration of all dogs, cats and ferrets owned by residents. The registration will require a current certificate of rabies vaccination and a $5 registration fee for each animal. Fees will be due yearly to maintain a pet’s registration with the city.
"Any excess will go towards the Newton County Animal Control," said Councilmember Linda Finger of the registration fees. "Because right now, we currently don’t give them anything, but they provide us service."
Upon passage of the ordinance after a public hearing and third reading at the next city council meeting, the council will be able to fine residents for a myriad of new violations.
Those new violations include:
• Not immediately removing animal excrement from streets and rights-of-way
• Animals vocalizing continuously for 15 minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes unless alerting the owners to an intruder’s presence
• Animals not restrained within 100 feet of space
• Tethering animals excluding with a running cable or trolley system
• Housing a hazardous animal without consent from the police chief
• Transporting animals in open-air vehicles without proper restraints
• Not placing signage notifying of a guard dog on a premises
• Housing more than three animals in one dwelling
• Not disposing of litters that place owners in excess of animal limit within 90 days
• Not spaying or neutering a puppy or kitten by the time it reaches 6 months old or within 30 days of adopting an adult dog or cat.
Fines collected from violations of these tenets and others of the new ordinance can be kept by the city council for general purposes.
"We’re not trying to make any money on it," Finger said, adding this was implementing better safety for the city’s residents.
Rabies certificates will now be used to obtain registration for pets and required to reclaim a pet if picked up by Newton County Animal Control.
"I think we need to have a 30 to 45-day registration drive," Finger said, adding that she hoped to have a mobile inoculation unit visit the city in February so residents could have vaccinations administered to their pets and then register them.
If passed, the ordinance would take effect March 1. The Porterdale Police Department will be charged with enforcing the new ordinance.
City manager Tom Fox said that notification of the changes in the animal ordinance would be placed on the city’s Web site and posted at city hall. Visit this article on www.covnews.com to view a pdf of the entire animal ordinance.
The Porterdale City Council passed a new parking ordinance Monday night that cracks down on blocking roadways, residential parking and how long a vehicle can park in certain areas.
Parking in public areas is now limited to two hours between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. except on Sundays and federal holidays.
Parking fines now begin at $10 for the first offense and increase after five days if not paid. Multiple offenses within 30 days also accrue increased fines and late fees.
The city will likely have to cut curbs so some residents can park outside of their homes without violating the new crossing sidewalks rule.
To read the entire new Porterdale parking ordinance visit this article on www.covnews.com.
In other news from Monday night’s Porterdale City Council meeting:
• The Porterdale City Council voted to postpone signing an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the County 911 Center. The emergency center asked $45,649 for a five-year agreement for providing services. City Manager Tom Fox advised the council that the agreement was vague and did not guarantee a seat on the 911 Board of Governors.
"The only way we could fund this would be to increase our city taxes," Fox said.
• Robert Foxworth was reappointed to the mayor pro temp position after a nomination from fellow councilmember Mike Harper. Foxworth then nominated Lynn Fendley, who was hired temporarily as the city clerk, to the position of city clerk. The motion was seconded by Arline Chapman and unanimously approved.
• The city has already collected 75 percent of owed property taxes for approximately $188,000. Approximately $45,000 still needs to be collected.
• Police Chief Wayne Digby updated the council on the city’s crime statistics for 2008. Incidents in 2008 rose 26 percent from 2007, while arrests rose 23 percent, DUIs rose 71 percent, drug charges increased 177 percent, fines and forfeitures increased 101 percent and instances of assaults and batteries decreased 21 percent.
• The Better Hometown committee raised $750 to landscape the gazebo area on Ga. Highway 81 -- $500 was donated by Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful.