Lincoln County Commissioners are preparing to hold their third public hearing on the fate of the county animal shelter. It’ll be held in the commissioner’s chambers on the bottom floor of the courthouse Wednesday, September 28, at 1:30pm.
County Commissioners will be taking public testimony up to and including their final decision as to whether the county sheriff’s office will retain responsibility for running it, or if it will be assigned it to a local non-profit, Friends of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter (FOLCAS). Proponents of both organizations have been adamant that they can do the better job. FOLCAS and their supporters say non-profits by the thousands run animal shelters across the country and that they do a very good job, and for a lot less money through donations and volunteers, than public entities. Sheriff’s Office supporters contend that FOLCAS is an untested non-profit and that their records and spending would not be as accountable or transparent as they would be under a public entity like the sheriff’s office. FOLCAS disagrees pointing out that their accounts will be monitored by auditors and other controllers since FOLCAS would be using public funds. They say public funds would continue to come from a continuation of a special five cent property tax override approved by the voters in 2009 to support the shelter until its final management structure could be worked out.
Sheriff Dennis Dotson has been a very vigorous campaigner for the shelter to remain under his control, claiming his office has been proven to be a competent and compassionate organization that knows what it’s doing. FOLCAS supporters say the costs of keeping the shelter open under a government agency will only run up the cost of the shelter, costs that could be saved by going with a non-profit like themselves.
Wednesday’s Board of Commissioner’s public hearing on the matter begins at 1:30pm, September 28th. After the public has spoken, the commissioners will close the public hearing and make plans to bring the matter back during a regularly scheduled board meeting in the very near future.
County commissioners have state repeatedly that costs of county employees keeps going up while revenues remain flat. They have said during public meetings that the cost of public employee benefits, especially, may soon equal worker paychecks, which would bankrupt the county. Commissioners have said that they must give FOLCAS a very comprehensive look because the county needs to save money, not find more ways to spend what little they have. They have vowed to hold FOLCAS financially and operationally accountable should they be awarded the contract to run the shelter. Commissioners say they expect the current nickel property tax, or a portion of it, will be needed to support the shelter regardless of who wins their approval. However, commissioners have also said that FOLCAS’s reliance on that tax should diminish over the near term as they activate more volunteers, fundraisers and grant sources.