Common council takes on topics like handling feral cats in first meeting of the year

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The La Crosse common council got to work on a laundry list of items,  like how to spend the city’s American Rescue Plan money, and how to manage the stray cat population.

Before they started voting on issues, Mayor Mitch Reynolds kicked off the new year with his first state of the city address.

“The overall state of La Crosse is one of strength, resiliency, innovation, and optimism,” said La Crosse Mayor, Mitch Reynolds.

Mayor Reynolds addressed the common council to start the meeting.

He touched on all the things 2021 brought, and talked about how the current state of La Crosse is set up for the future.

“As of this moment, there are 1,500 new homes that are in the planning, construction, and development phase in our city, 1,500. We are witnessing a historic level of housing development here in la crosse, setting ourselves on a course of sustainable growth,” said Reynolds.

La Crosse received just under $23,000,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The council committed $700,000 of it to pay for short-term housing homeless individuals during the winter month but is still looking for community input on what to do with the rest.

“And we’ll be collecting all of that information and I rely on her and her expertise and the expertise of her staff to bring forth proposals in a comprehensive package for the city to approve,” said Reynolds.

The most debated issue of the night, the city’s plan to trap-neuter-vaccinate-and release feral cats.

In the end, council members approved the plan 12-1.

Heather Drievold of the Coulee Region Humane Society was in support of this decision and says it’s not about getting rid of cats, but slowing down the population.

“The hotspots that were aware of where people are caring for them, we can get in there, get them altered and kind of stop that reproduction cycle so that we can reduce the numbers over time,” said Coulee Region Humane Society Executive Director, Heather Drievold.

The council also voted to approve a three-month extension of the animal control agreement with the Coulee Region Humane Society.
The humane society will run the new feral cat program.