Bradley County Commissioners Discuss Options For Animal Shelter Contract

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - by Tonya Brantley
A discussion on several options for the animal control contract with the City of Cleveland took place during the Bradley County Commission work session Monday evening. The following were considered by commissioners:
Option 1a: Do nothing. No longer an option. A letter was sent on Feb. 20, notifying the city that Bradley County did not wish for the current contract to automatically renew as we continue to negotiate a new contract.
Cost for 2013/14 budget would have been $390,576.
Option 1b: Similar to the current contract except using previous year’s audited operating expenditures. Cost for 2013/14 budget: $298,455.
Option 2: Removes vehicle-related expenditures and pulls county calls from formula. Continues to include county animals at shelter in formula. County share of animal shelter costs: $167,139.
Note: With calls only run in the city, county animals should decrease in future, lowering county’s percentage.
Option 3: Removes vehicle-related expenditures and bases percentage only on animals (excludes all calls). County share of animal shelter costs: $301,762.
Note: With calls only run in the city, county animals should decrease in future, lowering county’s percentage.
Commissioner Jeff Morelock said, “It seems to me like on the surface, with option 1b, we can renew the contract as is for the same existing services for about $27,000 less than we are paying this year for the same services. That sounds like to me a pretty good option.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “We are evaluating a contract that’s worth roughly $350,000 a year. We are looking for opportunities for funding for what we have said is of higher priority. My question would be, of all things yet unfunded from requests we have got from various departments, are any of those worth funding more so than the animal contract? I think that is an individual question for every commissioner. But I think that any time we chose a contract renewal, we need to ask if there a better use for that money. In all reality, you are not just voting on an animal contract, you are voting to not use that money for something else.”
Commissoner Jeff Yarber agreed that option 1b is the most cost effective while also keeping services in the county available.
County Mayor D. Gary Davis explained, “These are options that the city manager and I have put on paper. Getting both parties to agree with one of them would be another step. Option 1b is not the same contract, it’s a similar contract. There will be a new contract but it’s providing the same services as we have now using a new formula to come up with cost. Option 1b still provides the service, but changes the formula. Option 2 is taking the pickup service outside the city away. That’s the formula that I proposed.”
He went on to say, “You may think that providing a free pickup service for animals outside the city is your number one priority and I’m not going to argue with you, but you can’t have that priority and turn around and have the school priority and turn around and have another priority. Some of these priorities are going to have to go down the list because there is still no additional revenue out there. You have to pick and choose.”
Chairman Louie Alford said, “I think we need to study this budget a lot closer. I would like to present the city with some options. More discussion is needed. I think there are possibly more options that are out there that we can look into.”
During the Cleveland City Council meeting earlier Monday afternoon, , Councilman Richard Banks made a motion to extend to the Bradley County Commission an agreement to continue the present animal shelter contract as is for a three year period. He said, “I make a motion we notify the county to let them know we are willing to continue to serve our citizens with a good animal shelter and continue to fulfill the ideas of a no kill shelter for our area.” The motion passed unanimously.
The commission agreed to hold off on placing a motion on the next agenda to discuss the matter further.
Other items placed on next week’s voting agenda include a resolution supporting annexation by referendum and the appointment of an Ad-Hok committee to look at options for funding construction at Lake Forest Middle School.
County offices will be closed Friday in observance of Good Friday. The Bradley County Commission will hold its next voting session meeting next Monday at 7 p.m.

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