Commission to hear City proposal for animal shelter funding

Published 9:27 pm Saturday, June 17, 2017

When members of the Carter County Commission meet on Monday, they will tackle several items of business, including a proposed renegotiated contract with the City of Elizabethton regarding animal shelter funding.

Funding for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter has proved an item of contention between City and County leaders and also among members of the Carter County Commission over the past year. Under the terms of the current contract, the City and County split the operation costs of the shelter with each government entity pay for 50 percent of the costs.

In 2016, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey conducted a review of animal shelter funding and operations. The shelter’s finances are also currently the subject of an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

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In February of this year, members of City Council voted to renegotiate the contract with the county regarding what portion of the shelter’s budget would be funded by the City.

During Monday’s meeting, County Attorney Josh Hardin will present what he called the City’s “initial offer” for a new contract to the full Commission. During a Budget Committee meeting on June 12, Hardin told committee members the contract offer was essentially the same with the primary changes being the funding provided by the City and changing the contract to an annual renewal instead of a five-year renewal plan.

“The City of Elizabethton agrees to provide funding equal to 25 percent of the total operating cost to run the Animal Shelter up to a maximum payment of $100,000 during the term of this agreement,” the proposed contract states. “Under this agreement, the City of Elizabethton shall not be obligated to pay over $100,000 to fund the operating costs of the Animal Shelter.”

Under the terms of the proposed contract, the County would be required to provide the City with estimates of the cost of the operation of the Animal Shelter by February of each year and submit a final budget request to the City’s Finance Director by March 1 of each year.

In other business, the Commission will also consider a pair of resolutions — one creating “Adventure Tourism Districts” throughout the county and one implementing a formal public records policy.

State law allows counties to create an “Adventure Tourism Plan” and to designated specific areas as “Adventure Tourism Districts.” Approval as an Adventure Tourism District allows qualifying businesses within that district to earn a jobs tax credit to offset a portion of the Tennessee franchise and excise tax liability.

The resolution up for consideration would create the following districts: Roan Mountain Adventure Tourism District, Watauga Lake  Adventure Tourism District, Elizabethton  Adventure Tourism District, Watauga River  Adventure Tourism District, Stoney Creek  Adventure Tourism District, Doe River Gorge  Adventure Tourism District, and the Tweetsie Trail  Adventure Tourism District.

The resolution to implement a public records policy sets the procedures residents seeking access to public records should follow as well as setting procedures for records custodians in answering requests for public records.