published Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Cleveland/Bradley animal control nonprofit options reviewed

A kitten clings to a cage at the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
A kitten clings to a cage at the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A panel of Bradley County and Cleveland officials is considering the cost and timing concerns of a proposed joint animal control venture that would incorporate nonprofit shelter and adoption operations.

On Monday, City Manager Janice Casteel presented a number of funding options to the panel. Under those options, the city and county would split annual animal control costs ranging from $443,629 to $523,629, which includes $303,629 for four city animal control officers and between $140,000 and $220,000 in contributions to the partner nonprofit group.

While no nonprofit organization has been selected for the proposed animal control partnership, representatives of the The Ark of Cleveland have attended every meeting of the ad hoc panel.

Officials asked Ark representatives to provide a dollar figure that organization would require to provide kennel, veterinary and adoption services if it assumed control of the city animal shelter.

In a separate but related ongoing discussion with only county officials, The Ark recently stated it could operate an animal shelter for $240,000. However, that figure assumed The Ark would contract animal pickup services directly with the city. The Ark and the city have not negotiated this fee yet.

Bradley County Commissioner Bill Winters asked if the cheapest alternative, which amounted to $221,815 each for Cleveland and Bradley County, could be reduced further.

“If there is any reduction to [the lowest figure], then it makes it much more palatable to sell back to the County Commission,” Winters said.

“This is not a moneymaker for the city,” City Councilman George Poe said. “This is not something we’re going to do to make money, it’s a service – and I think it’s a much-needed service.”

Bradley County’s longstanding animal control service contract with the Cleveland Animal Shelter lapsed this summer when the Bradley County Commission and the Cleveland City Council could not reach agreement on the county’s contribution to the shelter’s proposed $662,000 budget for 2013-14.

At that time, the Bradley County Commission was willing to pay only $167,000 to the Cleveland Animal Shelter. The offer was intended to provide for animal dropoffs for county residents but eliminated animal pickup outside of city limits.

Officials also were divided as to when a nonprofit organization could launch operations at the shelter.

Caylor and City Councilman George Poe expressed doubt that a smooth switchover could happen as early as March, when a short-term animal control agreement between Bradley County and Cleveland ends.

A more realistic timeline probably would amount to six to 12 months, Caylor said.

No recommendations were made by the panel, but several members discussed the possibility of extending Bradley County’s animal control contact until June.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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