More Backroom Politics



Blount County Animal Shelter failed to open July 1, 2009


When was this backroom deal hatched!

By: Pat Hunter

July 8, 2009


Loudon County Commission held a Special Called Meeting on Monday, June 29. The meeting was short and sweet and lasted less than 15 minutes. But one item conspicuously missing from the agenda was the Blount Count stray animal Agreement which was scheduled to expire the next day, on June 30th. The Loudon County Budget Committee had met 1-hour prior to the Special Called meeting and the only mention was a budget amendment to the Animal Shelter; where's the public notice for the Special Called Budget Committee meeting? The Budget Committee is comprised of Budget Chairman Mayor Doyle Arp and Commissioners Don Miller, Chris Park, David Meers and Harold Duff who was absent. 


Budget Chairman Mayor Arp claimed that Loudon County was making money on the Blount County strays deal but the numbers don’t seem to add up. The proposed budget was originally $315,828 and after the budget amendments were applied and approved, the proposed budget was amended to $365,311, that's increase of $49,483.00 or 15% plus in one budget year alone!



Click to view Loudon County Animal Shelter Costs



Shelter costs with Mayor George Miller - Columns 1 & 2

Shelter costs with Mayor Doyle Arp - Columns 3, 4, & 5


Since Doyle Arp was elected as mayor in August 2006, the overall shelter costs have increased by over 82% in one year alone and the costs continue to grow. Blount County gives Loudon County $4,000 per month or $48,000 per year to house their strays. There were numerous budget amendments this fiscal year, which showed an increase in expenditures for part-time staff, over-time pay, social security, benefits, insurance, maintenance of vehicles, travel, veterinary services, custodial supplies, computer software, gasoline, uniforms, utilities, other supplies and materials, in service/staff development, furniture and fixtures.    


Although the Loudon County Humane Society agreed to pay for a part-time position, a Volunteer Coordinator at a cost of $31,543 est., her last day on the job was purportedly June 30, 2009. This information was not disclosed.  


No one on the Budget Committee or Commission asked publicly about the Blount County animal agreement at the June 29th Special Called meeting. But on June 25, 2009, the Maryville Daily Times reported about the status of the Blount County Animal Shelter, which was scheduled to open July 1, 2009. The Times reported, “…Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp said he doesn't think approving a temporary extension of the arrangement will be an issue with his county commission. "It's not happened yet because we, in reality, can't even take action on that until the first Monday in August," Arp said.”  Mayor Arp and commissioners had every opportunity to place the Blount County stray animal agreement on the agenda at the June 2nd Commission meeting when Arp asked Commission to consider approving a date and agenda items for the Special Called Meeting! 


An article in the July 7, 2009 Maryville Daily Times spoke about funding for the Blount County Shelter. The article also stated, "The Loudon County Commission is accepting Blount's stray animals at the Loudon County Animal Shelter for $4,000 a month. The arrangement was set to expire on June 30, but Loudon County officials said that approving a temporary extension of the arrangement will not be an issue.


When did Commissioners vote to extend this cozy arrangement and where's the public notice? 


In September 2008, an article appeared in the Maryville Daily Times about Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham speaking about the animal shelter situation in his county, "...It is a thorny issue," Cunningham said. "Hindsight is always 20/20. I wish we had kept the contract with Maryville. That looks like a bargain based on what I've seen, based on the past year. It's going to cost $500,000 to $600,000 to subsidize the operations of (the animal shelter)."


If Mayor Cunningham thought that the contract with Maryville was a bargain at $138,000 per year, what must he and Blount County Commissioners think as they laugh all the way to the bank when Blount County writes out a check for $48,000 to Loudon County, which can only be categorized as nothing more than an outright steal!


Mayor Arp's doggie deal is costing taxpayers a pretty penny but animal lovers should also be concerned by a provision in the agreement, which allows the Loudon County Shelter to euthanize our animals to make room for Blount County strays. How fair is that? 


More about the Blount County Strays - Going to the Dogs - Friend or Freeloader


Click to See Timeline and Voting Record of Commissioners