Council debates animal control
by DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
Sep 24, 2013 | 948 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At-Large Councilman Richard Banks pitched the idea of letting Bradley County provide animal control for the whole county, including Cleveland, instead of the two local governments duplicating services at taxpayers’ expense.

A discussion of animal control surfaced Monday during the work session of the City Council.

Banks suggested donating the city’s animal shelter to the nonprofit organization chosen by the county to operate its service.

City Manager Janice Casteel said she heard one report that stated Cleveland Animal Shelter was big enough to service the county.

“We definitely don’t need two shelters,” she said.

Councilman Dale Hughes said the city and county should continue working together and join with the county in animal control efforts.

Councilman Bill Estes disagreed.

“We just got out (of an animal control agreement) because they wouldn’t pay their fair share and now they come back and say why don’t we set the parameters of you pay,” Estes said. “We have very different mindsets of what’s acceptable in terms of services, whether it be animals, whether it be fire, whether it be police, whether it be garbage, quality of life, we have a very different mindset.”

Hughes said, “What I’m trying to do, Bill, is work through a problem. I’m not saying it’s black and white, I’m saying, ‘What can we do to help?’ That’s what I’m saying.”

“We’ve gone above and beyond, and even offering the $120,000 [contract extension] was excellent on our behalf to help them out of a situation,” Estes said.

Continuing, he said the city has already been down the negotiating path with the county.

“We’ve broken bread. Now, we’re not breaking bread anymore. We need to go our separate ways,” Estes said.

Hughes said further separation between the city and county would be wrong.

Estes later changed his language from “go our separate ways” to “pay our fair share.”

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson will present information on regional animal shelters at the next Council meeting.

“There are a lot of communities in the state that do not have animal control, but they want it,” Johnson said. “My question is, are we looking for business at the animal control center here?”

Animal control became an issue after the city and county began public discussions of the animal control contract in late February, after Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis notified the city of its intent to terminate the contract.

Davis wrote in the letter that he welcomes the opportunity to discuss options for entering into a new contract for animal control services that will be satisfactory to both parties.

The Council responded at the end of March, stating the city would continue providing all of Bradley County with an animal shelter and provide for the needs of animals needing protection and adoption, and would continue to move toward being a no-kill city.

In 2012, there were 1,687 animals from within the city and 3,114 animals from the county, for a total of 4,801. Animal control officers responded to a total of 7,888 calls, of which 3,867 were in the city and 4,021 in the county. Overall, 56.2 percent of the animals and calls came from the county.

The city intended to divide the shares based on the proposed 2014 operating budget of $649,007, plus depreciation costs, which raised the amount to $663,174. After sales, fees and fines of $31,433, the net operating cost was estimated at $631,741. The county’s share would be 56.2 percent or $355,038.

The county’s offer was based on the previous year’s operating budget of $548,043. Under that proposal, the county share would be $298,455. The difference between the two proposals was the county would pay $56,583 less.

Bradley County extended the contract with the city for six months at a cost of $120,000. After six months, the county expects to have its own animal control service established.