‘If we can’t come to an agreement, why even have a meeting?’: Animal shelter issues continues to stymie commission

Published 11:01 pm Monday, March 21, 2022

FROM STAFF REPORTS
Efforts to poll commissioners on their recommendations for county support of the animal shelter were unsuccessful on Monday.
Commissioner Gary Bailey said he wanted to gauge support among other commissioners ahead of a meeting with City of Elizabethton officials on Tuesday regarding the operations and funding of the Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter.
“We are meeting tomorrow night and I would like to have a vote right now who would support a 65-35 split and a 70-30 split,” Bailey said, referring to proposals regarding the funding and representation splits being discussed between the city and county. “If we can’t come to an agreement, why even have a meeting? …If we do a 70-30 (split) they only get 30% of the vote with the county having five representatives and the city two.”
But County Attorney Josh Hardin said it wasn’t the time especially after only one meeting to discuss the funding.
Elizabethton City Manager Daniel Estes was in the audience and asked to speak to Bailey’s comments.
“To Mr. Bailey’s point, we are going to have a conversation to the representation at tomorrow’s meeting,” said Estes. “We are willing to talk to how the board is composed. We are all county and we are more than to willing to pay more on top of that; 30% is pretty reasonable. The question is, ‘How do we fund the shelter as 17% of the 911 calls come from the city, but all come from the county?'”
Commissioner Aaron Frazier asked Estes if the city would consider deeding the property to create a 50-50 ownership in both the building and property. Currently, the city owns the land and the county owns the building. “I cannot negotiate that here tonight, but I can go and ask,” Estes said.
Frazier’s said the county’s willingness to build a spay and neuter facility would hinge on equal ownership of the land.
Commissioner Brad Johnson said he had been dealing with the issue for seven years and nothing had changed nor would it. “It’s because we have two forms of government – the city and county and we will never agree,” Johnson said. “It (animal shelter) needs to go to either the city or the county because you will be in the same spot in seven years.”
Acting upon what Hardin had said early, Bailey withdrew his request to do a poll and the two governments will proceed with their Tuesday meeting at the courthouse. The meeting is slated for 6 p.m.
In other business, the commission approved Joseph C. Miller being placed on the Planning Commission board and reappointed Beverly Joyce Matherly to the Equalization Board.
Dr. Robert Acuff reminded the commission of the Health and Welfare workshop as the committee continues to sift through applicants who are searching for part of the $11 million in ARP money the county has received. There have been at least 12 submissions so far and the next town hall is scheduled at 6 p.m. on March 28.
Acuff also said the grant application has been submitted to the state for the internet expansion in the county.

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