Commission OKs $30,000 of funding for animal shelter

Published 11:33 pm Monday, October 17, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                                    Carter County Finance Director Christa Byrd responds to a question in regards to funding for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter during Monday's County Comission Meeting.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Carter County Finance Director Christa Byrd responds to a question in regards to funding for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter during Monday’s County Comission Meeting.

Discussions got heated at times in regards to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter (ECCAS) during the committee reports portion of Monday’s Carter County Commission meeting.
After approving donations from ECCAS for the amount of $904 from community members, a landfill request to purchase land to widen an area located on Minton Hollow Road for $38,000 and a $2,000 request to pay the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce to participate in Keep Tennessee Beautiful – pending action from the City of Elizabethton –, Mayor Leon Humphrey stated the animal shelter would need an amendment to increase the county’s budget by $195,556.59 to fully operate the facility.
The county and city orchestrated an agreement signed on Sept. 19, 2011, according to County Attorney Josh Hardin, which stated that the city and county would split the operational cost of the facility, but with the wordage adding “unless otherwise specified.”
After a report from Susan Robinson, who served as interim director of the facility, was presented, stating the facility was over capacity with cats and dogs and understaffed, Commissioner Al Meehan issued a concern about the city’s side of an agreement and inquired about their actions in regards to funding. Meehan added he was unsure that if the city did not supplement their portion of a contractual agreement that the county would be left “holding the bag” to fund the building.
An attempt to contact Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander by Mayor Humphrey over the phone occurred throughout the lengthy discussion after Commissioner Mike Hill added he would of liked to hear city representation.
Following Hill’s sentiments, Meehan added he would like to refer back to the city before making an informed decision on the item. The amendment did receive support outright, including from Commissioner Charles VonCannon, who added the city would do its part and that the funding needed to be acquired.
Following the talks, the vote to increase the budget amount to the $195,556.59 failed by not receiving majority vote. The amendment received 12 aye votes and 10 nay votes. Commissioners voting in favor included Nancy Brown, Ronnie Trivett, Charles VonCannon, Isaiah Grindstaff, Ross Garland, Timothy Holdren, Randall Jenkins, John Lewis, Ray Lyons, Robert Carroll, Kelly Collins and Cody McQueen. For nay were Will Campbell, Buford Peters, Robert Acuff, Mike Hill, Al Meehan, Bradley Johnson, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Larry Miller, Sonja Culler and Scott Simerly. Danny Ward abstained from the vote.
Following the result of the vote, the commissioners did address the funding issue in another way.
Commissioners had the opportunity to hear from County Finance Director Christa Byrd – who stated the facility could operate within its means for at least a month pending support from the commission. Issues raised from the city’s side of talks for the shelter included the recognizing of donations in the budget, which the county does not do, and the city addressing financial issues of their own, including the Elizabethton Police Department and funding to keep the Elizabethton Twins in the city.
Commissioners agreed to provide the shelter $30,000, with $10,000 apiece going to food, medicine and janitorial supplies. County officials will reopen the issue in 30 days after receiving more input from the city.
The additional funds will come in handy, according to ECCAS Director Katelyn Harrington. Prior to the vote, the director stated that after going through the purchase orders, she was concerned that the county could operate with the current budget for the next two months. The shelter will also be bringing an additional full time employee to assist Harrington, which is being looked at as a possibility to deter the amount of overtime currently accumulated at the facility.
The request to raise Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Smith’s salary from $32,781.43 to $47,476.00 failed following the Commission’s decision on the animal shelter. McQueen later made the motion to move the raise to $40,000 – which also failed. The Commission adjourned for recess and further information from the move was unavailable prior to the Elizabethton Star’s press deadline.
In other business, the County Commission voted to:
• Authorize the Carter County Sheriff’s office to award an officer his or her service weapon following retirement.
• Approve a resolution in support of National Adoption Day and to proclaim Nov. 13-20 of this year as Adoption Awareness Week in Carter County.
• Approve a contract between the county and the county’s 911.
• Approve an interagency contract with Butler Volunteer Fire Department
• Approve the creation of a stage at the community park in Roan Mountain, funded by donations.
• Heard a presentation from City of Elizabethton Economic Development and Planning Director Jon Hartman on the benefits of implementing tax increment financing within the city and county.

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