Commission approves new Animal Shelter agreement with City

Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Following a vote by the Carter County Commission Monday evening operations of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter are moving forward under a new agreement with the City of Elizabethton.

Members of the Commission passed both the new operating agreement and bylaws for the Animal Shelter during the group’s meeting. Elizabethton City Council members previously approved the agreement and bylaws during their meeting on Sept. 14.

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Commissioner Buford Peters, who was selected by the Commission to serve as chairman of the Animal Shelter Transition Committee, presented the items to the Commission for their vote on Monday. Peters said the committee worked with County Attorney Josh Hardin to draft both the bylaws and the operating agreement with the City of Elizabethton.

Commissioner Sonja Culler made a motion to approve the bylaws, which was seconded by Commissioner Mike Hill.

During a discussion on the bylaws, Commissioner Ray Lyons stated when the Transition Committee was formed after Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey resigned his duties to oversee the Shelter the Commission had directed the committee to begin working toward making the shelter a non-profit agency rather than a government entity. Lyons asked Peters if the Transition Committee still had that goal. Peters replied that based on the advice of Hardin creating the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to operate the shelter is still a long-term goal but it was not a feasible task to complete within the timeframe set by the Commission’s motion.

“That motion was clear that we would have 180 days to finalize a non-profit 501(c)(3),” Humphrey stated from the gallery.

Hardin responded that while a 501(c)(3) non-profit can be set up quickly, it was his opinion that having one established that would be financially solvent to oversee operations of the shelter in that time frame was not workable.

“I just didn’t see that as a feasible option for a transition committee in 60 or 90 days,” Hardin said.

Setting up an Animal Shelter Board to oversee operations and continue working toward the goal of becoming a non-profit was the best option for the county at this time, Hardin said.

The new bylaws establishing the Animal Shelter Board as the oversight agency for the shelter as well as setting in place policies and procedures was approved by the Commission on a vote of 19-2 with three members absent.

Commissioners Willie Campbell, Peters, Dr. Robert Acuff, Nancy Brown, Hill, Al Meehan, Bradley Johnson, Charles VonCannon, Isaiah Grindstaff, L.C. Tester, Danny Ward, Ross Garland, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Timothy Holdren, Randall Jenkins, John Lewis, Culler, Lyons, and Kelly Collins all voted to approve the bylaws. Commissioners Ronnie Trivett and Larry “Doc” Miller voted against the approval. Commissioner Scott Simerly was absent from the meeting and Commissioners Robert Carroll and Cody McQueen had been in attendance earlier in the meeting but had left before this vote was taken.

Commissioners also approved a new operating agreement between the County and City regarding operations and funding of the shelter.

Hardin said the goal of the new agreement is to consolidate the previous agreements which had been adopted, including a document which had been contested, into a new working document moving forward.

While most of the agreement remains the same, Hardin said there is one major change over the old agreement which bound the City and County to split the costs 50-50 for the shelter.

“There is no definitive funding ratio in this agreement,” Hardin said. “It does not hold anybody to a certain level of funding.”

Lyons made a motion to approve the agreement with Culler providing the second for the motion. Commissioners approved the agreement by a margin of 18-3.

Commissioners Campbell, Peters, Acuff, Brown, Hill, Meehan, Johnson, VonCannon, Tester, Ward, Garland, Gouge-Dietz, Holdren, Jenkins, Miller, Culler, Lyons, and Collins all voted to approve the agreement. Commissioners Trivett, Grindstaff, and Lewis voted against the agreement. Commissioners Simerly, Carroll, and McQueen were absent.