SOARING COSTS: Gympie Regional Council is expected to endorse a new contract for the city's RSPCA pound services after the service lost more than $1.5 million in the past six years.
SOARING COSTS: Gympie Regional Council is expected to endorse a new contract for the city's RSPCA pound services after the service lost more than $1.5 million in the past six years. Claudia Baxter

Gympie's RSPCA costs explode 1000% in decade

SAVING animals at the Gympie RSPCA pound is a cause most people are happy to support.

But doing so is about to cost significantly more, with Gympie Regional Council expected to accept a contract paying almost double last year's costs to keep the service running.

Under the tender which is being tabled before councillors this morning, the cost to deliver the service will be $498,000 in 2019-20.

It is a big jump up from the $248,500 the charity is expected to be paid this year.

Tom 9 week old cattle dog/bull terrier cross malesPhoto Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
A dog awaits a new owner at the Gympie RSPCA pound. Renee Albrecht

This increased cost was listed last week as one of the reasons the council's budget is operating in the red next year.

Council staff said the increased costs did not mean the charity was awash with money.

In the past six years, the group has reportedly incurred a deficit of more than $1.5 million for its Gympie service, which takes in about 1200 stray animals every year.

That deficit had been covered by the RSPCA's other revenue streams.

However council staff say the group considers this "financially unsustainable”; and even with the new contract the group would not be in the black until 2023-24 when the contract payment reaches $678,000.

Jane Markotsis is urging people to sign on and be foster carers for the RSPCA.
The council has looked at running it itself, but it could lead to more animals being put down. Cordell Richardson

The RSPCA asked the council in 2017 for a five year contract to keep the current service level but increase payments.

The council declined and management of the pound went to tender - but the RSPCA was the only group to make an offer.

The council also investigated taking control of the pound itself, but found this could result in a drop in service and an increase in how many animals were put to sleep.

An RSPCA spokesman told the council the tender would allow them to raise the number of staff on hand.

This would allow them more security on public holidays, improve the time spent on animal health checks, and give them more time to deal with a bigger workload which includes "council paperwork, council animal related customer service and the improved daily car of the animals”.