Local Leaders Receive Humane Shelter Update

Local leaders receive an update from the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter.

Shelter Director Bob Citrullo provided that update to Toccoa City Commissioners and Stephens County Commissioners during a joint meeting of the two boards on Tuesday at the Cornerstone Restaurant in downtown Toccoa.

Citrullo said that work is moving along on the new humane shelter on Scenic Drive.

According to Citrullo, first year goals he has set include streamlining shelter operations, establishing services at the new shelter, increasing programs to reduce euthanasia and increase the live release rate, and increase revenue coming into the shelter.

Citrullo also talked about a preliminary budget for the new shelter operation.

Currently, the city and county spend $130,000 on animal control.

Citrullo presented a preliminary estimated budget of $384,000 for yearly operations of animal control and the animal shelter, including additional shelter and animal control personnel.

The city and county have previously agreed to cover shelter operations for three years, with each side paying half.

Citrullo said that while the shelter will likely not be self-sufficient in three years, he hopes to be able to reduce the amount of money that the city and county will have to put into it.

“There is a lot of talk about being self-sufficient,” said Citrullo. “An organization this size with the demographic like this with the population we have, it will not be self-sufficient. Now, what is the goal in three years, (it) obviously (is) to reduce the dependency on all three entities, the shelter, the money we receive from the city and the county and to reduce that process. If we decrease the number of animals we bring in, which we can do, the dependency decreases and the funding needs decrease.”

During Tuesday’s joint meeting, city and county commissioners also clarified the funding arrangements regarding $200,000 provided by the city to the shelter.

Calling it a loan at the time, the city commission agreed to forward fund $200,000 to the shelter provided that the county was responsible for 50 percent of that. The county commission then agreed to guarantee 50 percent of that.

On Tuesday, the two sides clarified that each board would cover 50 percent of that $200,000.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said it goes back to the agreement that the city and county have to fund shelter operations.

“We have a three-year commitment to jointly fund the humane shelter,” said Austin.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough echoed that.

“This all falls back on the 50/50 agreement that the city and county reached,” said Scarborough.

Plans are to open the new Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter later this year.