Carter County Commission comes to agreement on annual budget for Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter 

Published 1:48 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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After last month’s Carter County Commission meeting that left some questioning what the future would hold for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, the commission met again on Monday to further discuss the budget for the organization.

But before the discussion would begin, there were two important events that would lead up to a final decision regarding how much money the shelter would receive for the next year.

The first did not even take place in the courthouse, but outside as supporters of the shelter stood by the road holding picket signs reading phrases such as “Save our Animal Shelter,” “Pass the Budget,” and “Animal Lives Matter” to rally the troops and display how much the organization means to them.

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The next was a public hearing one hour before the actual meeting where supporters and members of the community could speak to the board of commissioners about concerns and thoughts regarding the animal shelter or any other pressing issues in the county.

One of the first people to speak to the board regarding the shelter, Tim Vines, spoke from the heart saying, “How you grade a society or our county, in this case, is how you treat the poor, the needy, the elderly, the young, and the animals. In other words, those that cannot help themselves.”

Towards the end of his speech, Vines left the board of commissioners with reassurance, “If you find it in your heart to continue to fund this shelter, I can assure you that the money is not going to waste, but to a very good cause.”

Lisa Childress spoke to the commission soon after and started off by recognizing the director of the shelter, Shannon Posada, for all she does in her role. “I want to commend Ms. Posada for the work she does. She is a very hard worker, she is dedicated, and she cares about what she does.”

In the end, Childress gave a call to action to the board, saying, “As an individual, you are entitled to your opinion, but as an elected official by the taxpayers of Carter County, you have to step out of your box and vote what is right for the people that voted you into office.”

Childress followed this up with a challenge for the men and women before her to close things out. “The Friends of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter is having a kennel sponsorship program, and I challenge each of you 24 commissioners to sponsor a kennel for $100.” 

After the hearing, it was time for the main event so-to-speak, but before a vote on various budgets were brought to the floor, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford showed appreciation to three sheriff deputies for their service with the “Lifesaver’s Award” when responding to a call of an individual who intended to hurt themselves or others. 

Lunceford commented on the actions of the deputies, saying, “These officer’s actions served and preserved the life of a citizen, and reflect great credit upon deputy (Josh) Peters, deputy (Christopher) Caudill, and deputy (Christopher) Peek.”

There was a moment of much deserved recognition for these brave officers, as the three were treated to a standing ovation and thundering applause for their dedication and courage.

The meeting agenda progressed quickly after the presentation of these awards, that was until it was time to vote on a budget for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal shelter, where a lengthy discussion took place.

The initial budget proposal for the shelter from both Carter County and the City of Elizabethton, along with an animal control officer in the county that works with the shelter, was $492,603.88. A budget proposal that has had both support and opposition, discussion on the topic spanned over 30 minutes and contained four different votes on varying amounts.

Commissioner Gary Bailey spoke on how the cuts of the budget were divided between the city and county, informing his peers that the City of Elizabethton was contributing $125,000 and that the county was providing $321,000, with around $46,000 coming from other sources.

Several commissioners attempted to reduce the total budget to one of $400,000, greatly reducing the county’s contributions, but were unable to pass the proposal with a majority of 13 votes.

Posada, after two proposals had failed to reach a majority, informed the board that, “The commission needs to work with the city.” 

In the end, the proposal that gained the majority vote among the commissioners was a $70,000 decrease from the previous year, with the county contribution being adjusted to $250,000, making the total revenue provided to the shelter $451,000.

Throughout the meeting, it was clear that the only way to come to an agreement on this budget would be to meet halfway on both sides. While it may not have been what either side fully wanted, sometimes the only way to solve a situation is through compromise and mutual agreement.

The Carter County Commission will hold a Special Called meeting next Monday, July 26, at 6 p.m. regarding the Carter County Communications project, and the next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, August 16, at 6 p.m. inside of the Carter County Courthouse.