Joint animal control panel considers options
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Nov 05, 2013 | 829 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city and county joint committee on animal control debated two possible options at its Monday meeting that would have Cleveland City and Bradley County governments working together to pay for animal control.

City Manager Janice Casteel presented the options to the committee at the start of the meeting.

Option one would keep four out of the eight current Cleveland Animal Control employees at their posts — three animal control officers and one supervisor. The other four would be given the option to take jobs elsewhere within city government.

Two would work out of the Public Works Department, and one would work out of the police department. A job was not yet determined for the final person, but Casteel said one would likely be found. The four animal control employees staying at their posts would work out of the shelter’s office.

The second option would allow for a similar arrangement to be made with the nonprofit organization that would be running the shelter. However, animal control officers would be working out of the police department, instead of the shelter.

Casteel said option two represented “the clearest separation of duties” between local government employees and the employees of the nonprofit organization that would be running the animal shelter.

“The officers would simply deliver the animals to the nonprofit,” Casteel said.

The committee had previously asked for bids from nonprofit organizations interested in managing the shelter. While the nonprofit would likely fill the office with its own staff, the city would provide the services of its animal control personnel.

Both options presented to the committee still kept the city animal control employees in city jobs and had them handling animal control duties for the shelter.

“The difference is where they report at the beginning of the day,” Casteel said.

What either of the options would cost depends on whether or not the city and county pay for both services for the kennel operation and for animal control personnel.

Services for the kennel operation would allot $180,000 for the 2013-14 budget year. An animal control contract with the city would cost $303,629 for the same time period.

Based on those figures, the total cost to both the city and county would be $483,629 for the 2013-14 budget year, and the cost to each government would be $241,815 to provide the full slate of shelter and animal control services.

After one committee member asked what kind of timeline needed to be considered for the change, City Councilman George Poe posed a question.

“What if we continued at the rate we have now?” Poe asked before suggesting the committee wait a year from March to have things actually go into effect.

The idea, he said is to allow extra time for everyone involved to make the necessary changes.

The numbers were created with a local nonprofit called the Ark of Cleveland in mind. The organization, which is now run by only volunteers, currently manages a small animal shelter on Oak Street. Bob Caylor, president and CEO of The Ark, said the nonprofit would continue to run its current operation in addition to the Cleveland Animal Control shelter.

Caylor said he would also be in favor of a slow transition if the organization were to take over the city’s animal shelter.

“I think one year is more realistic, but it could be as soon as six months,” Caylor said.

The committee is made up of representatives of both the City Council and the Bradley County Commission, as well as other members of the community. Before any final decision can be made, it will need to be discussed by both the city and the county at their respective government meetings.

Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said the county would likely want to have everything in place before the next budget is made.

In addition, Peak-Jones said the county — not the ad hoc committee — had een considering making its own decision from two different bids from nonprofit organizations, instead of just the one the committee discussed.

Peak-Jones said the SPCA of Bradley County would still be considered by the Commission to be an option for local animal control unless the organization formally withdraws its bid.

SPCA staff members not in attendance would need to be brought up to speed before she would feel comfortable moving forward with any final decisions, she added.

All who spoke at the meeting said more discussion is necessary before a final decision is made on what to present to the County Commission and the City Council.