The cost of road kill is going up.
While the County Council reviewed the first proposed overall budget cut in charter history yesterday, the Department of Inspections and Permits asked for $20,800 -- a nine-fold increase -- to dispose of dead animals.
Inspections and Permits officials joined representatives from several other county departments yesterday in council chambers, answering questions about the money County Executive Robert R. Neall includedin his proposed $616.6 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
When it comes to the budget for removing dead animals, it's a simple matter of supply and demand, department chief Leroy Jonas explained.
Not that the supply of carcasses has changed. The county still has to deal with 14,000 to 17,000 dead dogs, cats, birds, possum, squirrels, birds, horses, birds and deer every year.
But there's only one company left that will pick them up from the Glen Burnieanimal shelter and county roads, now that Carroll Braun Co. Inc. wasordered closed in March for violating state air quality standards atits antiquated Elkridge rendering plant.
The county had no choicebut to sign an emergency contractwith Valley Protein, the only otherpickup and final delivery firm operating between Pennsylvania and Virginia, Jonas said.
"Unfortunately, we're dealing with a monopoly," he said.
While Carroll Braun charged $25 a week to cart loads ofdead animals in 55-gallon drums to its plant, Valley Protein is charging $100 a week to deliver them to its Baltimore transfer station.
And that's only until the end of the fiscal year. After that, the price will probably triple, Jonas said.
With similar increases for special big-animal pickups, the total cost will soar from $2,000 to $20,800, said Marjanet A. Worrell, the department's animal control coordinator.
And service apparently will get worse.
"We had a ponykilled on Waugh Chapel Road and told the owner to call Valley Protein," Worrell said. "It was 24 hours before the animal could be removed. The truck was up in Gaithersburg."
Local governments throughout the Baltimore area are stuck in the same bind, Jonas said.
The Animal Control Division also asked for $35,500 so it can buy a van and two animal ambu
lances. In most cases, Neall has asked that vehiclereplacements be delayed a year.
The new vehicles would replace outdated ones with more than 120,000 miles on them, Jonas said.
The overall budget request for Inspection and Permits is down 1 percent from this year's $7.6 million, to just under $7.5 million.
The only council criticism was directed at the department's year-old permit application center. Several members complained that the center, whichcosts $2 million a year to operate, is a constant source of complaints from builders. But center Director Henry Farrell defended its performance, saying it meets its 10-day response goal for routine permit applications and has reduced the average turnaround time for single-family dwelling permits from 110 to 27 days.