TOP PHOTO: The Campbell County Animal Control Committee, which is facing a deadline for finding either more money or a new contractor to take over animal shelter operations, held a meeting last week.

JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – Last Wednesday the Campbell County Commission held a meeting of the Animal Control Committee, which is facing a deadline for finding either more money or a new contractor to take over animal shelter operations.

The Friends of Campbell County Animals (FCCA) has run the shelter for the past seven years but facing a continuing shortfall of money, has given the county notice it will not be renewing the contract when it expires at the end of the current fiscal year, at least not for the same amount as past years.

The county provides $149,568 of the total cost of operating the shelter but according to budgets provided by FCCA, that is far short of the total cost of operations, which in 2020-21, amounted to $469,976. FCCA has made up most of the shortfall from donations ($102,150) grants from other agencies ($70,325) and other revenue such as adoption fees, refunds and reimbursements. The total income for the year came to $417,351, or $52,000 less than expenses.

The commission scheduled the called animal control meeting on Wednesday and invited the mayors and council members of the various municipalities to attend, with an eye to persuading the cities to chip in to keep the shelter open. There were no representatives of any city government – LaFollette, Jacksboro, Caryville or Jellico – at the session, although the members of the FCCA board along with a number of other animal lovers, did show up.

Twelve commissioners did attend. “Did you come up with a number on costs?” Animal Control Chairman Dewayne Baird asked Shelter Director Patricia Silwinski.

Silwinski pointed to the budget materials she had handed out and repeated that between $400,000 and $450,000 is needed to operate the no-kill shelter. “The budget you have ($149,568) won’t even fund a kill shelter,” Silwinski pointed out. Campbell county’s shelter currently euthanizes animals only if they are suffering from incurable diseases and cannot be saved. A kill shelter generally holds animals for a finite period of time such as 3-7 days, and then euthanizes them if they are not claimed by the owner and have not been adopted.

The budget presented by FCCA shows that payroll is the largest single expense, with $30,000 of that going to the animal control officer, another $10,000 to the part time shelter manager and roughly $100,000 for two full time and five part time kennel attendants who feed and care for the animals. None of the shelter staff has health insurance provided in the budget, Silwinski said.

 The county provides $149,000 of the total revenue of $417,000. Is that negotiable?” Commissioner Rusty Orick asked, adding, “That’s a three-cent tax increase.”

 “It comes down to funding. We can’t continue under this contract if we can’t afford to feed the animals,” Silwinski replied.

The commission has advertised for a new contractor to come in for the same amount provided now but FCCA board member Terry Basista warned, “You will not find anyone with any sense that will come in here to operate the shelter for this amount of money.”

“We are willing to help you if you decide to run it yourself, or find another group,” Silwinski added.

Mayor EL Morton mentioned the possibility of some money coming from a USDA community planning grant that might be used to help support the shelter, but he did not elaborate. Several commissioners voiced their opinions that the cities need to chip in financially, particularly LaFollette, which supplies 45 percent of the animals brought into the shelter.

One mentioned that Claiborne County only provides $35,000 for operation of its shelter, but Silwinski pointed out that the actual operating budget for the Claiborne County shelter is roughly $360,000 and that Claiborne County also provides four jail inmates as full time workers, training them to administer shots as well as feeding and caring for the animals.

“That is $112,320 in inmate labor, so the total budget for Claiborne County is $473,000,” she pointed out. When some on the commission showed interest in inmate labor, she added, “The sheriff’s department has to agree to that.”

With no more answers and no municipalities in attendance, the committee adjourned. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/11/2022-6AM)