Ordinance about cats is confusing issue in Florence


News editor

In an attempt to get a cat population problem under control, Florence City Council reviewed ordinances Monday related to domestic animals and the process of licensing, tagging, and neutering pets.

A formal complaint had been registered with the city about residents harboring a number of cats that are causing problems in their neighborhood.

Discussion centered on the advisability of putting a collar and tag on a cat, the wording in a "civil statute" that indicates no one can actually own a cat, and the city ordinance which does not limit the number of cats that reside at a given address.

Police chief Conroy Miller brought up the civil statute that indicates a cat cannot be owned.

"Because it is a predatory animal and it roams, the statute says no one can actually own it," said Miller. "Anyone can feed it, have it neutered, get shots, whatever, but they cannot own it. And that means the animal control officer (backed by the city) can do whatever it wants to strays or cats that appear to be strays."

Research into the city's domestic animal ordinance did not turn up a limit to the number of cats that can be kept at a given residence — whether the civil statute has precedence over local ordinance or not.

"I can't believe there was never a limit put in place," said councilman Dan Ludwig. "There's one (a limit) for dogs, why not cats?"

After discussion, councilman Trayce Warner said she would call the Kansas League of Municipalities and see if civil statute supersedes a city ordinance.

"We may have to amend the ordinance," said mayor Greg Winn.

The topic was tabled until a future meeting.

Also tabled was a decision to hire the Marsh Buggy to clear a log jam from Cottonwood River. Funds are available from Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it will be six to eight weeks before the money is made available.

Council members discussed setting up an escrow account to be reimbursed by FEMA, but wanted more assurance. They postponed a decision until city clerk Janet Robinson could contact the city's accountant and attorney.

Allen Hayes agreed to talk to the contractor and let him know the funds are being readied for the project.

In other business, the council:

— heard from Warner that no one is running a concession stand for ball games this summer. She encouraged local non-profit groups to contact her about concessions.

— heard from councilman Randy Mills that city finances will be discussed at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the city building.

— received copies of a petition from Paulette Zook asking the city to leave the trees and grassland around the water tower as a deterrent to storm water which erodes the ground in the area and carries silt and dirt to the lower portions of the city, clogging the storm drains and ditches. Zook also mentioned the amount of carbon dioxide trees will remove from the air between Florence and the highways. Zook had 120 names supporting her position. No action was taken by council.

— approved a request by Leonard Ellis to mow the former football field twice before June 21 so the area can be used for seed storage. Ellis will contact the seed dealer to get seed for the city as compensation for use of the land.

— heard from Sue Klassen that PRIDE would like to replace the curb and sidewalk along the south edge of Veteran's Park, but needs the city's help to pay for the project. Council members discussed the idea but made no commitment. Klassen also requested permission to use the grassy area south of the water tower for the Art and Antique Show this fall. A unanimous vote was cast to approve the request.

— problems at the city pool Saturday were temporarily solved when a pool crew from Towanda came to Florence to work on the pool pumps. The pool was able to remain open after the repairs were made.

— heard from fire chief Joe Box that permission had been granted to Florence PRIDE to have a fireworks stand in compliance with city regulations.

— tentatively agreed to install a handicap accessible ramp at the northeast intersection of Ninth and Main even though there is no sidewalk there and the lots in that block are undeveloped. A final decision will be made Thursday evening at a special meeting.

— agreed to spend $500 to $600 to repair a pump on the Grasshopper mower.

— agreed to donate $100 again this year for Relay for Life.

— tabled until the Thursday special meeting any discussion about the purchase of a police car. The city only has one usable police vehicle.

— agreed to have extra keys made for the baseball equipment building and the rest rooms.