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County postpones shelter match decision

A decision on whether Washington County will match Johnson City’s increased support of the animal control center will likely be postponed until the first of 2014, though an approval may not be in the best long-term interest of the organization.
During a review of the annual audit, Mike Eddy of Eddy and Eddy CPAs said the shelter has a big economic dependence on the city and county, with 60 percent of its revenue coming from those two sources.
“Anything you can do to build up the area of private donations will help,” Eddy told Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board members during their Dec. 3 meeting.
“Cause for Paws,” a campaign to fund construction of a new animal shelter, will hopefully attract more private support to add to funds committed from governmental entities.
Still, some commissioners don’t think Washington County is paying its fair share for the animal control program. Members of the General Health and Welfare Committee made a recommendation to increase the county’s support from $158,000 to $185,000 during their October meeting.
The Budget Committee deferred the request one week later to give members time to review the shelter’s budget and asked Dobbs to return in November.
At that meeting, she referred to vehicles, vehicle maintenance and fuel costs as the shelter’s largest expenses. “I don’t see costs coming down even though the work is seasonal to some extent,” she said.
Budget Committee members weren’t convinced. Commissioner Mitch Meredith asked why increased funds are needed if fewer services are being provided.
“I think you’re looking at a lower number of animals (equating to) lower costs, but that’s not true,” Dobbs said. “Many of the calls don’t bring in animals.”
Meredith noted the number of calls also had decreased. “So other than inflation, I don’t see increased costs,” he said.
Commissioner Joe Grandy said he agreed with Meredith. “The numbers aren’t matching up with what we’re seeing as requested,” he added.
Budget Committee members voted to ask David Tomita and Pat Wolfe, the two county commissioners serving on the ACB, to address the committee prior to recommending the $27,000 increase to the full commission.
Without those funds, Dobbs said she may have to reduce calls in the city, increase the pick-up fee, cut back on veterinarian services and reduce more employee hours. “I’m starting to worry about the gap between the city and county,” she said. “I’ve never had a problem asking for a match before.”
During last week’s ACB meeting, Wolfe asked Dobbs if she thought the Budget Committee would approve the increase. Dobbs shared the decision made during the November meeting, but neither Wolfe nor Tomita had been contacted, and the Budget Committee is not meeting during December.