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Humane society at risk to lose funds
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Commissioners are considering a measure that could reduce funding for the local animal shelter.

In recent years, the number of dogs and cats taken to the shelter by animal control officers has decreased, which means the amount the county is paying per animal "has more than doubled."

David McKee, director of administration, said revisiting the county's current contract with the humane society is an attempt to "negate some of this per animal cost."

The proposed contract revision stipulates if the number of dogs and cats taken by animal control is less than 10 percent quarterly from the previous year's quarterly totals, then the monthly payment to the shelter from the county shall be reduced by 10 percent for the corresponding quarter.

Ed Holton, a local veterinarian that volunteers his services and sits on the humane society's board of directors, said reducing funds would place additional burdens on the already strapped shelter.

"As you can imagine, we really don't agree with the 10 percent potential fee decrease," he said. "If our numbers drop 10 percent and we drop 10 percent of the money, but if they go up 10 percent, we get nothing."

The decrease in the number of animals picked up by animal control officers, according to Holton, is an indication that the shelter is doing a good job for the county.

"We're doing a good job getting animals off the streets and getting them spayed and neutered and putting those animals into good homes," he said. "We're working hard to try to do things...that will hopefully be less costly for the county.

Also at issue is the lack of an annual audit of the shelter's finances, commissioners have said.

Commission James Swafford said he is disappointed that the shelter has not had a financial audit since 2008, which he said is required with the current contract.

Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix was also concerned about the lack of annual audit.

"I just would not be able to vote on this unless we have an audit," she said.

Andrea McKenzie, the shelter's accountant, said a full audit could cost an estimated $8,000.

"We've already done our budget for this year, and if we have to have that additional expense it would be a huge financial burden," she said.

The humane society is set to receive $126,000 in county funding in 2015, about a third of its annual operational cost.

McKenzie, who said the humane society board was unaware that the county's intent was for an annual audit in the current contract, asked that the county consider allowing a financial review instead of a full audit for 2016.

"A review would potentially be half the cost," she said.

The board of commissioners is expected to continue the discussion during Thursday's 6 p.m. voting session meeting.