Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 18, 2013

Judge keeps restraining order in place, seeks long-term settlement between city and SPCA

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A State Supreme Court justice has extended, for a week, a temporary restraining order that forces the SPCA of Niagara to continue to provide animal control services to the city of Niagara Falls.

The ruling followed an hour-long conference on Thursday morning between lawyers for the city and the SPCA and Justice Richard Kloch Sr.

Kloch also said he expects the Falls City Council to approve, at it's meting on Wednesday night, a six-month extension of the city's contract with the SPCA. That contract proposal contains a significant increase in the service fee the city would have to pay to the shelter.

"I anticipate that the city council of Niagara Falls will look favorably upon a six-month extension, as agreed upon, and that this will lead to a long-term agreement," Kloch said. 

Lawyers for the city pointed out later that a contract extension has not been "agreed to" and the proposal that will be given the to council, for their consideration, is the SPCA's most recent contract offer.

"I think the judge hopes this will get worked out," Assistant Corporation Counsel Doug Janese said.

Kloch told the lawyers he will "retain jurisdiction" over the contract dispute with a hope of getting the city and SPCA into a longer term deal.

"Even if the council acts on an extension," Kloch said, "the court will retain jurisdiction to assist in the negotiation of a long-term extension."

Janese said the city is willing to work toward that goal.

"We're willing to come to the table and the SPCA wants to come back to the table and I think (the judge) is working working to mediate that," Janese said. "Sometimes you need a neutral third party to take a look at these things."

Kloch directed SPCA of Niagara Treasurer David Urban to meet with City Controller Maria Brown before the council considers the SPCA contract. Brown has said the city needs a better understanding of what other municipalities pay the shelter and how much of a burden the city's animal control demands are placing on the not-for-profit. 

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