A citizen complaint has brought focus to a city function some Delta City councilmembers would like to eliminate — boarding horses.
"I don't think we need to be in this business," councilmember Mary Cooper said at the conclusion of discussion about short- and long-term stable rentals at Horse Country Arena.
The citizen complaint addressed underfed horses and an unauthorized dog. City manager Justin Clifton said the owner of the horses was given a warning; in the meantime staff took a look at the facility and decided to recommend elimination of long-term boarding.
"Long-term rentals are problematic for at least two reasons," Clifton wrote in a memo to councilmembers. "First, the facility does not include pasture or appropriate room to exercise horses. Long-term rental without such facilities can be considered cruel to animals. History suggests that horses are, in fact, left in the facility with little to no exercise and are often in less than ideal condition. Similarly, staff does not dedicate significant resources to monitoring the facility so mistreatment of animals can go unnoticed."
Second, he said, long-term boarding is available elsewhere in the county and operating a facility subsidized with taxpayer funds can undermine private enterprise.
Staff is more amenable to short-term rentals for special events, horse rescues or animals in transit.
Cheryl Adams told council she has paid the city approximately $7,000 since 2009 for boarding her three horses at Horse Country Arena. The arrangement has provided revenue for the city and a place for her to keep her horses.
The City of Delta charges $45 per month for each stall, with the understanding there will be one horse per stall. Adams said she saw an ad for pasture that was running $195 per month per horse.
"So we are competing with private enterprise," councilmember Ray Penick said.
Adams detailed the care her horses received — and even provided photos — but Clifton said it's not a matter of any particular case — it's the fact the city is ill-equipped to maintain long-term rentals. He said it's a "niche activity" that doesn't mesh with the city's mission.
"We've discussed Horse Country Arena many, many times," councilmember Mary Cooper said. "I'm not even sure we should be in the business of short-term, transient type of boarding because you still have issues with health certificates."
"I don't see this as a city business," councilmember Robert Jurca agreed.
Penick said he's leaning toward eliminating long-term rentals but would like more information about short-term rentals before taking action.
Clifton promised to put together a broader picture of Horse Country operations for council consideration.blog comments powered by Disqus