Going to the Dogs
Taxpayers subsidize cozy arrangement with Blount County
Blount County - Friend or Freeloader?
By: Pat Hunter
On March 7, 2009, a Sneak Peak was held at the future Blount County Animal Shelter. The facility is unfinished and much more work is needed before the shelter can accept animals. Without a large infusion of money, it's doubtful if the Blount County Shelter will be ready to house their strays come June 30, 2009 when Loudon County's agreement is scheduled to end once again.
This year's audit indicates a whopping 82% increase in the operations of the Loudon County Animal Shelter. The newly released Annual Financial Loudon County Financial Audit ending June 30, 2008 may be found online on the Tennessee Comptroller's office website. The audit is conducted by the State of Tennessee and is also available by hardcopy for a nominal fee. Blount County's stray agreement began Feb. 19, 2007 so 4-months of Blount County's Animal Control issues is reflected in the cost of operations for the Loudon County Animal Shelter ending June 30, 2007, which totaled $188,086. The following fiscal year with Loudon and Blount County's strays, the operating cost skyrocketed to $343,590, ending June 30, 2008. This is an increase of $155,507 or 82% increase over the previous year.
Under the current agreement with Loudon County, Blount County pays $4000.00 per month or $48,000 yearly but this hardly puts a dent in the overall increase. According to media sources an estimated 4,000 animals are picked up in Blount County annually. Loudon County's agreement with Blount County is based on the yearly intake of approximately 2,000 animals so what happens to the other 2000 strays?.
How can Loudon County taxpayers continue to subsidize this cozy arrangement with Blount County? The Mayor was quoted in the press as saying something about Loudon County was not supposed to make money but they weren't suppose to lose any money by helping Blount County. This month marked 2-years, 1 month with Blount County's strays but now the burden of Blount County's Animal Control problem appear to fall on Loudon County taxpayers!
With spending like this, could this be the reason why we don't have money for schools and books
and we face higher property taxes?
Compare Loudon County Shelter Operating Cost
$155,507 or 82% INCREASE
Click to view Loudon County Audit $343,593 ending June 30, 2008
Click to view Loudon County Audit $188,086 ending June 30, 2007
Loudon County Commissioners have voted numerous times to extend the temporary 6-month agreement. Click to See Timeline and Voting Record of Commissioners. This all began in January 2007 when Loudon County Mayor Arp brought forth a proposal from Blount County Mayor Cunningham for temporary animal shelter. The agreement was for 6-months to house Blount County's strays at the Loudon County Animal Shelter. This was precipitated by Blount County Commission terminating a contract with Maryville City who wanted to charge more, between $112,000 - $139,000 (est.) because of the increasing cost to operate the Maryville Animal Shelter. Blount County thought that they could do it for less but they have since learned differently.
In March 2007, a spokesperson for the proposed Blount County Animal shelter was quoted in the Mary Daily Times as saying, "Realistically, it would take two to three years to raise the money and a year to build the facility, Protzman said." Why did the Mayor and Commissioners mislead Loudon County residents to believe that this was a short term 6- month arrangement when citizens and officials in Blount County were saying differently? Mayor Arp at Groundbreaking ceremony - Jan. 8, 2008
Neighbors helping neighbors was the Mayor Arp's sales pitch and just about all of Loudon County Commissioners went along except for Commissioner Earlena Maples who voted no. The newest member on Commission, Austin Shaver also voted no.
Some on the Budget Committee promised to revisit the cost to house animals if the agreement was extended but Budget Commissioners Don Miller, Bob Franke and Nancy Marcus, conveniently forgot.
The wording in the resolution says that Loudon County reserves the right, at the discretion of Animal Shelter Director, "to alter the set intake number to prevent overcrowding or because of shelter staff limitations." Word has surfaced that Loudon County animals are purportedly euthanized to make room for Blount County's strays. That is insult to injury, Loudon County taxpayers bear the burden of the operation costs of the animal shelter while killing our animals to make room for Blount County strays!
There is nothing wrong with neighbors helping neighbors but a temporary arrangement has now turned out to be an expensive proposition.
Loudon County Commissioners refuse to act and request that Blount County pay their fair share of Animal Control operating cost. There is a big difference between helping a friend or a friend taking advantage and being a freeloader!