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'Livestock at large' fee put to pasture

New York Mills dropped the 'livestock at large within the city' fee of $150 before making a single collection. City council members unanimously agreed to take the fee off the books after much discussion at their regular meeting March 13.

The fee was enacted in July 2009 in response to a number of escaped livestock from the NY Mills Locker Plant. At that time, Mayor Larry Hodgson suggested the fee as compensation for the use of city services. City employees spend their time, and city equipment is used, when returning the animals to the plant.

March 5, 2012 was the first time the city had to implement the fee; a steer escaped the locker plant while a farmer tried to unload it from his trailer to a holding pen.

After the steer escaped, the farmer informed locker plant employees that he would attempt to chase it out of town. However, by the time the farmer reached the steer near Boardman Street, the NY Mills police were already on site.

Within 20 minutes of the escape, the police had shot the steer. The city utilities department helped the farmer bring the steer back to the locker plant.

Police Chief Jim Van Schaik said there was "potential for danger for pedestrians and road traffic, but in this instance there were no reports from anyone directly in harm's way."

In response to the March 5 incident, the city office sent an invoice to the locker plant for $150.

City Clerk Darla Berry personally brought the invoice to the locker plant and offered an explanation.

Berry said Whitman and Amanda Briard, the owners of the locker plant, were not surprised at the fee, although they disagreed with it.

Berry said the Briards were invited to the council meeting to formally dispute it. Though the locker plant owners were not present the night of the city council meeting, discussion of the fairness of the fee ensued.

Dave Delaney, city utility worker, addressed the city council about what he saw as the city "penalizing businesses when they shouldn't be."