City, county officials unable to come to conclusion on Animal Shelter funding agreement
Published 6:22 pm Monday, March 7, 2022
BY NIC MILLER
After a two-hour meeting last week, city and county officials still do not have an operating agreement for the Animal Shelter.
Carter County Commissioners Gary Bailey and Travis Hill joined Elizabethton Council member Jeff Treadway and City Manager Daniel Estes for the meeting on Thursday. Carter County attorney Josh Hardin also participated.
An issue is the percentage of funding each entity will pay for the shelter. The first proposal called for a 50-50 split, but Bailey said the county should provide 60% of the funding and the city, 40%. Currently, the county is funding 65% with 35%, or $147,000, coming from the city.
Treadway recommended a 70-30 split, with the county carrying the larger portion. Treadway argued that the city is taxed much more heavily for joint city and county services, with the Animal Shelter being just one example. He said every county resident paid $4.75 in taxes to support the Animal Shelter this year, and that city residents paid the county tax and also had to pay the city’s 35% share for the shelter, totaling $10.31.
This means that the total that every city resident paid came out to $15.06 in both city and county taxes for the shelter.
“The amount for city residents is three times more than that of county residents, all for the same service,” Treadway said. “How is that close to being fair?”
Bailey said it is unfair for the city to pay less than half the costs for the shelter, but to still have half the representation on the Animal Shelter’s board of directors.
Treadway said he would consider fewer city representatives on the board or removal of the city’s participation entirely, turning both funding and governance over to the county in full. Treadway also suggested raising the tax rate by 1.5 cents to cover the funding that would be lost from the city. Treadway said that way, every taxpayer in the city and the county would be paying the same amount.
During the meeting, an idea was also brought up to create a separate taxing district in regard to the shelter that all citizens would take part in paying for. This idea was brought up by Jim Winchester, one of the 20 people in attendance to show support for the shelter.
The Thursday meeting was live streamed, and those interested in watching can do so online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvb5o6tGOIM&t=5923s
The group will meet again March 17 to continue discussions.