By MARY RAINWATER
An audible sigh of relief could be heard from supporters and employees of the Anderson County animal shelter Monday, as County Commissioners unanimously approved a $20,000 emergency budget amendment that will help keep the shelter’s doors open for the remainder of the year.
The one-time addition to the county’s contributions to the shelter will specifically cover the costs of employee salaries. The shelter, known officially as BARC The Humane Society, currently employs three full-time and four part-time workers.
BARC board member Brenda Beasley addressed the court about the shelter’s situation, stating that the loss of a major sustaining donor in 2012 and tough economic times have put the shelter in an extreme financial shortfall.
“Payroll costs average $3,900 every two weeks,” Beasley said. “If we are unable to obtain this emergency funding, we will have to close our doors to the public and consider an alternate operation method.”
Commissioners Kenneth Dickson and Joey Hill both asked if the decision could be delayed until a future meeting, which would give the court a chance to further review the organization’s financial situation.
But the court’s next scheduled meeting, July 12, would be too late, according to Beasley.
“At that point, we will have had to close our doors,” she said.
The volume of animals served at the shelter is close to 3,500 annually, Beasley reported, and the staffing required for the daily operation is currently at a minimum.
In addition to annual contributions from Anderson County, the City of Palestine also contributes to the animal shelter and has agreed to pay, in a lump sum, its monthly budgeted allotment through September 2013, when their fiscal year ends.
“We are planning to ask them to increase their contributions in the next budget cycle,” Beasley said, also reporting that they were expecting their financial situation to “even out” in 2014, with funding expected from a charitable foundation set up by the late contributor’s estate and from recent participation in a local charity bingo operation.
“I don’t think people understand — I don’t think they have a clue about the number of animals that come in your doors or the amount of work it takes to care for them,” County Judge Robert Johnston said. “It is a 24-7, 365-day-a-year operation.
“This request is a one-time deal,” the judge said. “They are in dire straits or they would not be asking for help.”
Other items on Monday’s agenda include:
• APPROVED reports from county officials, a budget amendment and bills.
• APPROVED renewal of a bank depository contract with Prosperity Bank and approved related bank depository signature cards.
• HEARD a presentation from Pattillo, Brown and Hill CPAs of the 2012 audit for Anderson County.
• APPROVED a subdivision application for The Reserve at Montalba.
• APPROVED proposed amendments to the previously approved tax abatement contract for Sanderson Farms, Inc. for the construction of a poultry processing facility and for the construction of a hatchery facility.
• APPROVED, following a public hearing, closing and discontinuing maintenance of Anderson County Road 4042.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org