April 24, 2014

Mostly cloudy

County auditor seeing red over color-coded licenses

One of the non-budgetary amendments added last month to House Bill 59 — Ohio’s new budget — is drawing fire from Medina County Auditor Michael Kovack.

While the auditor’s primary job is to be the county’s bookkeeper and property appraiser, the auditor also issues permits and licenses, including dog licenses.

Michael Kovack

Until now, dog licenses were renewed yearly. But the new budget bill, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on June 30, requires the state’s 88 auditors to offer three-year and permanent licenses as well.

Kovack said the change will cost his office time and money it doesn’t need to spend.

“I love solutions to problems that don’t exist,” he said. “It’s a major irritant for auditors across the state, just the type of thing we need to be focusing our energies on.”

Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, introduced the change at constituents’ requests simply to solve an annoying problem, his spokesman said.

But Kovack, who has been auditor for 20 years, said he’s never had a request for extended-period dog licenses and said he is not aware of any other auditor in the state who has either.

He said the new licenses will require his office to set up extra databases to track each kind of license, including individual databases for three-year licenses in each year of their status.

Additionally, licenses will be color coded by classification and year, similar to the stickers on vehicle license plates.

“We have new colors every year but now, over a two-year period we could have four to five different color tags out there,” Kovack said.

Changes will have to be in place no later than Dec. 1. As of June 30, all software needs to be changed, and notifications sent to all registered dog owners in county.

There are roughly 24,000 dog owners in Medina County, Kovack said.

The licenses will cost $2 for each year for the one- and three-year licenses and the permanent license will cost $20 and will be valid for the duration of a dog’s life.

In May 2012, the “dangerous dog” registration went into effect, another problem Kovack said the county doesn’t have. He said no dangerous dogs have been registered.

The budget also allows for county sheriffs to become qualified as dog wardens.

County commissioners can appoint sheriffs to enforce animal control laws for a period of two years. The sheriff cannot appoint peace officers as dog wardens, meaning current wardens and their benefits can be transferred to the Sheriff’s Department.

Additionally, House Bill 59 included passage of the major provisions of the bill known as Nitro’s law. That law was introduced in 2009 after an October 2008 case in which a dog-training and boarding facility, “High Caliber K9” in Youngstown, was raided.

Owner Steve Croley was arrested, charged and convicted on four misdemeanor infractions for starving 19 dogs, eight of which died, including a Rottweiler named Nitro. His family petitioned for the law championed by state Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown.

Nitro’s law is the first in the state to allow for first-offense felony charges in cases of institutional animal abuse at kennels and boarding houses.

Prosecutors will have the option to charge kennel owners and their employees with a felony in extreme abuse cases and a high-level misdemeanor in serious neglect cases.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

  • The Resident Resident

    Um….sounds like a lot of whining. Anybody in the financial sector knows this would not be hard to track. Maybe it is time for this auditor to go back to school or take some professional development classes

  • Love Dogs

    *L* I think it’s more about the cost…….another “good idea” from Columbus that’ll cost the locals more to implement!

  • Libertarian all the way

    God bless Kovack! Leave it to Columbus to make dog licensing complicated!

  • Trapper Jack

    Political whining. This saves dog owners time but will cost the Auditors office a few hours to convert their system. I am surprised because this office has appeared to care about the people it serves in the past.

  • Jaded

    “Solutions to problems that don’t exist”! Beautiful description of our legislative process!

  • Brunswickoh

    How about just doing away with annual licenses and only offering the $20 for the life of the dog license? Maybe that makes too much sense and will do away with a few office clerks jobs…..

  • anon

    you are right!!

  • Rescue Them!

    There are no clerks with this money, I’m pretty sure. It runs the shelter……..Hey, maybe getting rid of the shelter isn’t a bad idea!

  • Flyboy

    Rumor has it one of the senator’s wives was late with her dog tag so they shoved this into the budget bill! Love our legislature!

  • ohiomike
  • Angie Kovacs

    I’m a big fan of not having to renew my dog’s license every year.

  • brunswickoh

    Rescue- I’m talking about the ones who process the licenses, not where the fee goes. As a non dog owner, the idea of renewing a license annually for my dog seems ridiculous. If you can afford to own a dog, you can afford a fee of $20 to put a license around their neck.

  • Rescue Them!

    Brunswick, that’s the problem – if this hurts anyone, it’ll hurt the shelter. I know the dog wardens aren’t happy with this.

  • Mackymo

    In the long run it will take last time and money for the auditors office. I cannot believe this made front page news and had him whining on and on about it. Just because he thinks all pet lovers in Medina are his buddy, they are not. He has taken things and tried to put a spin on them. nWhen is the last time you seen a dog warden, the auditors office go around to check dog license? He makes it sound as if his office is doing this. Sure if you see a dog running loose, you call the dog warden but it’s not like 24/7 and it’s their job they are being paid for. nHe always seems so hateful anymore when it comes to political issues that he disagrees with. Geez this is about dog license, who freaking cares whether it’s 1 or 3 years, only the responsible owners get them anyhow.

  • Megan Harbath

    I care about whether it’s one or three years. Every year it’s a pain to fill out all the forms, send in my $8 and a self addressed stamped envelope. Not the end of the world, but an unnecessary hassle in December. I would happily pay even more not to have to do that more than once,. and I was surprised to see him complaining about it. I’m sorry it’s more work for them, but in the end it will be much less work and a lower cost for the taxpayers, who happen to be his employer.

  • Tom Rogers

    Somehow I think it’s more about the “party of less government” imposing requirements on the 88 counties without consulting them. I think that big picture message kinda got lost.

  • Geoffrey

    Listen to the whiner. It’s not about the licenses themselves. It’s about the way the legislature did it and the fact they didn’t consult with the people who have to implement it. Bad government on any level. Think back to when the county commissioners tried to do away with the county home without consulting anyone.

  • Anon

    Mr. Kovack needs to hire some better IT people if this is such a big deal to implement. Or maybe he should run for the Statehouse. According to him his office would be in great hands with his chief deputy.