ELIZABETHTON – The Carter County Commission Budget Committee was still struggling at the time of publication to resolve a dispute over funding for the Elizabethton / Carter County Animal Shelter.
Last month, the county commission voted to cut the shelter’s budget by $ 71,000. This means that the shelter’s total funding has increased from $ 492,000 to $ 421,000. Shannon Posada, director of the animal shelter, said the funding cut meant the loss of two full-time positions and service cuts, including the elimination of animal control services. Posada said the decline in staff meant fewer animals could be cared for in the shelter, as the smaller staff could only maintain a smaller number of animals.
Supporters of the shelter have asked the Budget Committee to recommend the reinstatement of $ 60,000 to the shelter. Several county commissioners have sought to go in the opposite direction. Gary Bailey is a county commissioner but not a member of the budget committee. He told the committee how much money the county invests in the animal shelter each year and how much money the town of Elizabethton has invested in the shelter.
Bailey said the shelter was run as part of a city-county partnership. He said that in addition to being a joint organization, the board is evenly divided with three members from the city and three members from the county. He said that despite this 50-50 split, the county provides 70 percent of the shelter’s funding. He said the county donated $ 250,000 a year to the shelter.
Bailey then turned to the shelter supporters in the audience and asked “why don’t you ask the town for the money?” He said, “If we give $ 250,000 a year, then the city has to find $ 250,000.” Instead, the city donated less than half of that amount. During the budget committee’s efforts to create the new fiscal year budget in the spring, Elizabethton city manager Daniel Estes discussed the possibility of the city increasing its contribution to the shelter by $ 20,000. The city council will take a first vote on this increase at its next meeting on Thursday.
In response to this commitment, the budget committee voted to apply $ 20,000 from the new county budget and reduce the amount of money the county was cutting, making the cut only $ 51,000. This vote was defeated by a vote of 3-4, with the abstention of Robin McKamey. Committee members Willie Campbell, Travis Hill and Ross Garland voted for the measure. Charles Von Cannon, Julie Guinn, Austin Jaynes and Aaron Frazier voted against.
Frazier said most of the disagreements between the city and the county were due to the shelter. He said “the government cannot fix the problem.” He went on to say, “This can only be solved by the private sector.” Frazier proposed that the county only fund the shelter dollar for dollar with city funding. This motion was also defeated.
Another motion would have reduced the county’s cut in shelter funding from $ 71,000 to $ 46,000 if the city increased its additional funding from $ 20,000 to $ 25,000.
This motion failed by a 3-4 vote with McKamey abstaining. Campbell, Guinn and Von Cannon voted against.