Council clears up vicious dog code language

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The city code has a new definition of dangerous and vicious dogs.

The City Council Tuesday approved an ordinance upgrading the section of the city code dealing with dangerous and vicious dogs.

“This came as a result of the last dangerous dog hearing we had,” in municipal court, City Attorney Crystal Fieber explained to the council.

“The judge at that hearing had a difficult time coming to a conclusion because our ordinance was unclear,” Alderman John Nelson, who attended that hearing before Municipal Judge Matthew Mooney, told his colleagues.

Fieber said the new ordinance creates two categories – dangerous dogs and vicious dogs – where the previous one lumped them all into one category.

“These are more clearly defined,” she said of the new classes. “(This ordinance) also creates a definition for serious injury (from a dog attack) which was one of the concerns from the municipal judge. Under the existing ordinance, there was no definition.”

Vicious dogs would be considered those that have caused serious injury as defined in the ordinance while dangerous dogs are those that cause lesser injury or exhibit other dangerous behavior.

The council voted to enter into an agreement with the state Department of Revenue to have that agency collect debts for the Plymouth Utilities.

Currently, the utilities contract with a collection agency in Sheboygan for debt collection, City Administrator/Utilities Manager Brian Yerges noted.

That can result in the city getting as little as 50 cents on the dollar for any debts that are collected, he said.

State law has been changed to allow the Department of Revenue to collect debts owed to state, county or local government agencies, according to Yerges.

“Overall, I believe it would be to the utilities’ financial advantage to move to state collection,” Yerges stated. “I think they’re probably highly effective. They can set up payment plans, intercept tax refunds and garnish wages.”

An added advantage, Yerges continued, is that the state charges a collection fee on top of the debt to cover its costs and returns all of the past-due amount it collects to the municipality or agency.

He pointed out that, to qualify for turning over to the state, a debt must be greater than $50 and more than 90 days past due.

The salary scale for non-union city employees for 2016 was approved by the council.

Most of the raises, Yerges noted, were in the 2.5 percent range, similar to what union employees will receive in the coming year.

“There were a variety of positions, primarily in the seasonal and fire department positions, where we have not adjusted those in four years, maybe longer,” Yerges acknowledged.

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