First State Animal Center seeks year extension

CAMDEN — In a proposal sent to state and county officials Monday, the First State Animal Center-SPCA suggested extending all current animal control duties to nearly a year, then terminating them all on June 30, 2016.

FSAC-SPCA Executive Director Kevin Usilton said via email that the proposal was sent “to the providers of public safety in hopes of a true transition to the State office of Animal Welfare.”

FSAC-SPCA PROPOSAL Below is the text of First State Animal Center-SPCA proposal that Executive Director Kevin Usilton said was sent Monday afternoon “to the providers of public safety in hopes of a true transition to the State office of Animal Welfare”: FSAC-SPCA proposes to modify the duration of each of the following contracts so that they will terminate June 30, 2016: The animal control contracts with Sussex County, Kent County, New Castle County, City of Wilmington and the State rabies contract. Those modifications would take place subject to the following conditions: 1. Those FSAC-SPCA employees who have been given termination notices effective September 15, 2015 will have their termination notices deferred to June 30, 2016, and those terminated employees who will continue to be employed by FSAC-SPCA through June 30, 2016 and then terminated will receive from FSAC-SPCA a $1,000 bonus plus 24 weeks of severance pay, all of which bonus and severance pay will be promptly reimbursed to FSAC-SPCA by the State. If requested, FSAC-SPCA will furnish the State and other contracting parties with such information concerning each employee and his/her duties as will enable the contracting parties to correctly calculate prorated reimbursements to the State for bonuses and severance pay from the appropriate county or municipality. (Aside: For an average salary of $500 per week, the cost for 24 weeks of severance pay is estimated at $480,000, more or less). We believe such incentives are essential to retain our animal control employees through June, 2016 without whom we could not possibly perform the contracts. 2. The State will be solely liable for the unemployment compensation to be paid to FSAC-SPCA employees who had been given termination notices effective September 15, 2015 but who will continue in employment with FSAC-SPCA until June 30, 2016 at which time they shall become unemployed. If requested, FSAC-SPCA will furnish the State and other contracting parties with such information concerning each employee and his/her duties as will enable the contracting parties to correctly calculate prorated reimbursements to the State for unemployment compensation from the appropriate county or municipality. 3. All payments to FSAC-SPCA under the contracts shall be made by the State, and if the State or any contracting party shall terminate its contract prior to June 30, 2016, the State shall nevertheless continue, as before termination, to make the contract payments monthly through June, 2016. 4. FSAC-SPCA will be permitted to adjust its hours of operations as needed for providing services under the contracts, and if some animal control officers’ employment by FSAC-SPCA shall terminate prior to June 30, 2016, FSAC-SPCA may have their duties performed by other animal control officers at overtime rates, and the additional costs to FSAC-SPCA shall be promptly reimbursed to FSAC-SPCA by the State. 5. Notwithstanding the incentives (bonuses and severance pay) offered to animal control employees to retain them in employment by FSAC-SPCA through June 30, 2016, if such employees’ employment shall nevertheless terminate prior to June 30, 2016 and if as a consequence FSAC-SPCA’s performance under its contracts shall be imperfect, FSAC-SPCA shall not be liable for breach of contract or for the costs to obtain cover (i.e. replacement services). 6. The rabies contract with the State shall be adjusted to provide payment by the State to FSAC-SPCA of $475,520, and the cruelty contract will continue with reimbursement to be paid to FSAC-SPCA as expenses shall be incurred. 7. This proposal to modify the contracts as outlined above is conditioned upon acceptance of the proposal by all the parties to those contracts.  • The FSAC-SPCA contracts with the City of Dover, the State (cruelty) and Petsmart would be unaffected.

FSAC-SPCA PROPOSAL
Below is the text of First State Animal Center-SPCA proposal that Executive Director Kevin Usilton said was sent Monday afternoon “to the providers of public safety in hopes of a true transition to the State office of Animal Welfare”:
FSAC-SPCA proposes to modify the duration of each of the following contracts so that they will terminate June 30, 2016: The animal control contracts with Sussex County, Kent County, New Castle County, City of Wilmington and the State rabies contract. Those modifications would take place subject to the following conditions:
1. Those FSAC-SPCA employees who have been given termination notices effective September 15, 2015 will have their termination notices deferred to June 30, 2016, and those terminated employees who will continue to be employed by FSAC-SPCA through June 30, 2016 and then terminated will receive from FSAC-SPCA a $1,000 bonus plus 24 weeks of severance pay, all of which bonus and severance pay will be promptly reimbursed to FSAC-SPCA by the State.
If requested, FSAC-SPCA will furnish the State and other contracting parties with such information concerning each employee and his/her duties as will enable the contracting parties to correctly calculate prorated reimbursements to the State for bonuses and severance pay from the appropriate county or municipality. (Aside: For an average salary of $500 per week, the cost for 24 weeks of severance pay is estimated at $480,000, more or less).
We believe such incentives are essential to retain our animal control employees through June, 2016 without whom we could not possibly perform the contracts.
2. The State will be solely liable for the unemployment compensation to be paid to FSAC-SPCA employees who had been given termination notices effective September 15, 2015 but who will continue in employment with FSAC-SPCA until June 30, 2016 at which time they shall become unemployed.
If requested, FSAC-SPCA will furnish the State and other contracting parties with such information concerning each employee and his/her duties as will enable the contracting parties to correctly calculate prorated reimbursements to the State for unemployment compensation from the appropriate county or municipality.
3. All payments to FSAC-SPCA under the contracts shall be made by the State, and if the State or any contracting party shall terminate its contract prior to June 30, 2016, the State shall nevertheless continue, as before termination, to make the contract payments monthly through June, 2016.
4. FSAC-SPCA will be permitted to adjust its hours of operations as needed for providing services under the contracts, and if some animal control officers’ employment by FSAC-SPCA shall terminate prior to June 30, 2016, FSAC-SPCA may have their duties performed by other animal control officers at overtime rates, and the additional costs to FSAC-SPCA shall be promptly reimbursed to FSAC-SPCA by the State.
5. Notwithstanding the incentives (bonuses and severance pay) offered to animal control employees to retain them in employment by FSAC-SPCA through June 30, 2016, if such employees’ employment shall nevertheless terminate prior to June 30, 2016 and if as a consequence FSAC-SPCA’s performance under its contracts shall be imperfect, FSAC-SPCA shall not be liable for breach of contract or for the costs to obtain cover (i.e. replacement services).
6. The rabies contract with the State shall be adjusted to provide payment by the State to FSAC-SPCA of $475,520, and the cruelty contract will continue with reimbursement to be paid to FSAC-SPCA as expenses shall be incurred.
7. This proposal to modify the contracts as outlined above is conditioned upon acceptance of the proposal by all the parties to those contracts.
• The FSAC-SPCA contracts with the City of Dover, the State (cruelty) and Petsmart would be unaffected.

Citing an upcoming transition to state oversight of dog control in Delaware and the difficulties it said that will bring, FSAC-SPCA earlier announced it was terminating current contracts after Sept. 15.

The early termination of contract plans went under legal review by Sussex County soon after it was announced by FSAC-SPCA late last month. Officials offered little comment on the proposal Monday.

“This document needs legal review,” Sussex County Deputy Administrator Hal Godwin said.

New Castle County spokesman Antonio Prado issued a statement

“We have forwarded the proposal from First State Animal Center to our office of law for review. At this point, we have no further comment.”

Mr. Usilton said his organization has a strong relationship with the three counties and the city of Wilmington.

“We’ve heard from every county and they’re hoping everyone can agree on a transition plan to move forward,” he said.

Also, according to Mr. Usilton, all three counties had been in contact with FSAC-SPCA and would be willing to negotiate an extension of services.

Attempts to reach the state Department of Health and Social Services and Kent County officials were not immediately successful.

In a letter, FSAC-SPCA proposed that all current employees with upcoming termination notices on Sept. 15 have their work status extended to June 30, 2016. Mr. Usilton said 40 employees would be affected.

Also, the employees would receive a $1,000 bonus plus 24 weeks of severance pay upon termination, paid by FSAC-SPCA and then reimbursed to the nonprofit by the state.

“To ease our employees who are massively trying to leave by Sept. 15, there needed to be a package for their transition,” Mr. Usilton said.

The proposal was broken into seven parts, which concluded with the notion that all parties had to accept the terms to be valid.

Before FSAC-SPCA announced its intentions in July, contracts were scheduled to run to:
• Sussex County, Dec. 30, 2015
• Kent County, June 30, 2017
• New Castle County, Dec. 30, 2016
• City of Wilmington, June 30, 2016
• City of Dover, ongoing
• Department of Health, rabies, June 30, 2016
• Cruelty Reimburse, June 30, 2016.

FSAC-SPCA had ongoing annual contracts with Sussex County ($682,616), Kent County ($895,041.12), New Castle County ($1,035,000), Wilmington ($600,000), city of Dover ($40,000), Department of Public Health for rabies ($275,520) and Cruelty Reimburse ($106,000).

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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