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The City of San Diego pays the County $7.5 million each year to run the Department of Animal Services. In addition, residents of San Diego pay an additional $1.5 million in user fees, totaling $9 million per year. The County uses the money to protect people from animals, protect animals from people, and administering adoptions and managing shelters.

Some of the money also goes to waste, found the City Auditor's office in a recent performance audit.

"This contract can become a high risk agreement for the City given the impact it has on both public health within the City and the City’s bottom line.

"During our audit, we found that the Animal Services Agreement itself contains numerous provisions that are unfavorable to the City."

Those "unfavorable" provisions have cost the City $1.9 million in three years time. They include using $1.1 of the $9 million on unincorporated areas of the county. According to the report, the City's calls for animal services amounted to 59 percent of the department's calls from July 2007 to June 2010. However, during that time the City paid 64.8 percent of the entire department.

"The use of population as a major factor in allocating costs means the Animal Services cost paid by the City is not based on the City’s actual demand for Animal Services but rather the potential for residents to use the services," read the report.

In addition, the Animal Services Department loses an additional $750,000 by allocating funds according to estimated costs, not according to actual expenditures.

"We found numerous opportunities for operational enhancements on both the County’s side and the City’s contract management side...

"The City needs to engage in more robust contract oversight to ensure adequate performance and make strategic decisions that will improve both public health and cost recovery for the City."

The City's Audit Committee will review the audit at a July 11 hearing.

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