Phoenix ponders cat rules

Council also decides to extend city manager's contract

PHOENIX — A new committee tasked with reviewing possible standards for residents who trap pet cats will meet Monday to review a proposed ordinance.

City officials established the committee after residents in a neighborhood off Colver Road voiced concerns in August about a neighbor trapping pet cats and leaving the animals in hot summer temperatures without access to water or shade.

While allowing pet cats to wander "at large" is prohibited inside city limits, the rule is rarely enforced. Cat issues have cropped up in the city over the past year with cats being poisoned and trapped in various parts of town.

Resident Steve Kious, who led the effort in urging the council to ban trapping of pet cats after his own pet was trapped and taken to the county shelter, said a recent committee meeting was "civil and productive."

In addition to addressing the issue of trapping animals inside city limits, Kious and other pet owners say they hope the city will review the ban on allowing pet cats to roam outside or "at large."

Other issues include modifying proposed ordinances to allow residents to continue trapping for "spay, neuter and release" programs or for trapping nuisance animals such as raccoons.

City attorney Kurt Knudsen said proper care and a permit also would be required for residents who wish to trap pet cats.

The committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the public works annex, 1000 South B St. City officials said the meeting would be open to the public.

In other news, council members rescinded an earlier vote to begin a recruitment process to replace City Manager Eli Naffah.

Council members originally voted in mid-August to recruit Naffah's replacement. Several council members voiced concerns about Naffah being available only three days a week, while Mayor Carlos DeBritto urged the council to maintain the less-than-five-day — and less expensive — schedule because of budget concerns.

Residents attending the August meeting criticized the council for taking a vote in a meeting advertised only to include a study session.

In addition to rescinding the earlier vote, the council changed its course entirely in keeping Naffah, who said he is available three set days per week and is working a fourth day most weeks with some flexibility from the city.

Naffah said the decision was due largely to budget concerns and the coming election, but also because the council expressed satisfaction with his work at City Hall.

By June, Naffah said, he could commit to a set schedule of four specific days each week. The council may extend his contract in January or begin recruiting a replacement by year's end.

"When the election happens at the beginning of November, that'll be like half of the council changing, so sometime after the beginning of November, they'll sort of decide what they want to do," said Naffah on Friday.

"One option is, at the end of June 30, I would be able to then start working four days a week, which should satisfy what their concern was. Otherwise, in January, if they decided they don't want to wait that much longer, they could decide to recruit a replacement."

Naffah said he hoped the decision would give city employees and local agencies some peace of mind.

"For everybody I'm working with, and other entities throughout the area, when people feel like you're halfway out the door it's a little harder working with them on a long-term basis," said Naffah.

"I'm just happy with the fact they are pleased with the job that I'm doing and that this will bring some stability for the city."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com


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