JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – The courtroom was nearly full Monday evening as county commissioners tried to stretch the budget to provide more money for the county animal shelter and help the senior citizen center without a property tax increase.
The commission first dealt with the animal shelter issue before the workshop started. During a budget and finance session it approved a number of budget amendments. One of those amendments would provide an additional $75,432 to the shelter, bringing the county’s share of costs to $225,000. The current budget at three times that amount. It remains unknown if the FCCA will renew its contract to operate the shelter.
Animal advocates were not the only group packing the courtroom, as about half the crowd was there to advocate for senior citizens. An employee for the Campbell County Senior Citizen Center spoke first, telling commissioners, “We are struggling.”
She said the pandemic has taken a major toll on the center’s resources, with donations down while costs continue to rise. “We managed to prepare 4,500 meals in the past three months,” she added, referring to the meals on wheels program to feed seniors who are house bound as well as those who come into the center for meals.
“My director drives the truck and donates office supplies,” she said. “We own the building and the county pays the insurance but doesn’t help with salaries or the utility bills.” She also pointed out that the plumbing in the old building dates to the 1950’s and has required updating.
She concluded by telling commissioners the center is in desperate need of more funding to get through the current fiscal year and asked the county for a one-time donation of $8,000 to help the center survive. “We used to be able to raise money through raffles, but state law now forbids that.”
Chairman Johnny Bruce, speaking on behalf of the commission, said he would talk to the finance director and find the $8,000, while other members of the audience also urged the commission to provide more financial support for the center.
Animal shelter Director Patricia Siwinski was less optimistic about the commission’s additional $75,000 for the shelter, pointing out that last year the FCCA group provided 68 percent of the total cost of the program, compared to the county’s 32 percent.
“FCCA can’t continue to take on that responsibility,” she insisted. She added, concerning the June 30 deadline, “I’m not saying we turn out the lights and go home but you’ve got to decide what kind of shelter you want, if an intake and euthanize center is what you want.”
“I’ll never vote to euthanize an animal. I’ll vote to do everything we can to avoid a kill shelter,” Bruce said as he was met with applause from the audience.
The commissioners also spent time discussing other costs such as a $100,000 increase in tipping fees that the county will have to pay the landfill in Scott County. They approved a budget amendment to cover part of that increase by raising by 20 percent the fees charged for commercial and industrial waste.
Another amendment raised the litigation tax charged in general sessions court to $65, in order to offset a state-mandated salary increase for sessions court judges. The commissioners also discussed a suggestion from Mayor E. L. Morton to pay for additional day trucks and crews for the ambulance service. Morton said the county ambulance service is hard-pressed to meet the need for transporting dialysis patients and other scheduled patients and still have ambulances available for emergency calls. Some commissioners were skeptical of the request and after several minutes of back-and-forth debate, no action was taken. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/12/2022-6AM)