NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Membership dues will cost as much as $1,000 at the SPCA Niagara.
"It was strictly a business decision for financial reasons," said Board President Brian Barish. The no-kill initiative requires more funding and by hiking membership dues, the organization is able to gain more money.
Until now, members paid $25 dues and were allowed to vote for persons to serve on the Board of Directors. Carol Tutzauer of Buffalo Humane has been a member and is upset that she will no longer be able to vote if she doesn't pay $1,000. "I believe it does shut out the people," she said. "If we want Niagara to be a no-kill community, we want to engage the public, we really don't want to disengage them."
New York State Senator George Maziarz expressed concerns over the membership hike. "It seems extremely odd and that's why I think it's important to get the Board's perspective on it and go forward. Complaints of the last board was a lack of transparency and it just seems like we're going down that road all over again."
Barish tells 2 On Your Side's Claudine Ewing the have consulted with an attorney and the latest changes are "100-percent legal."
"We're running a very efficient shelter, we're saving a lot of animals...people with other agendas will take the opportunity to buy memberships to try to change things to fit their own agenda," said Barish.