Toccoa Budgets Additional Funding for Animal Shelter

The city of Toccoa will increase its contribution for the current fiscal year to the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter.

Monday, city commissioners approved an additional $40,000 in funding for the shelter for the current Fiscal Year.

Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse said that the shelter has already spent almost the entire amount that the city has budgeted to contribute this Fiscal Year.

“In the current FY 2014 budget, we have $102,000 for the humane shelter funding,” said Morse.  “The expenses are already almost 100 percent after five months.  At the rate they are spending, we would need to budget an additional $139,000 to meet the current spending rate.”

Also, Morse said that does not include the $50,000 that the city has budgeted for animal control.

Morse pointed out that StephensCounty budgeted $142,000 for the animal shelter operations in the current Fiscal Year, more than the city.

When the shelter agreement was put together and the new facility built, the city and county agreed to fund the shelter operation for three years with the city paying 50 percent of the costs and the county paying 50 percent of the costs.

Morse said that he was told by the county that their figure of $142,000 for the shelter and $50,000 for animal control is based off 50 percent of a proposed total budget of $384,000 presented by former Shelter Director Bob Citrullo last November.

With that in mind, Toccoa Mayor David Austin said the city needs to fund as much for the shelter as the county has.

“The memorandum of understanding with the county was three years, 50/50 split,” said Austin, who noted the $40,000 would make the split an even 50/50.

“That is what we need to do,” said Austin.

Even still, city officials noted that the shelter operations are running over what was budgeted.

Current Shelter Director Jeff Roberts said that he is looking for ways to try to cut costs at the shelter.

City Commissioner and Shelter Board Chair Ron Seib said that the city and county need to be comfortable with the operations and the cost of the shelter.

“What I would like to see ultimately is between the city and county, become further educated on what the entity provides, get comfortable with whatever that budget number is and then provide Jeff with that number,” said Seib.

Seib said it is a matter of understanding the level of service being provided, deciding what the city and county want to do and are willing to pay for, and making the decision.

The shelter was asked to continue working on cost-saving measures to reduce its budget for the remainder of the Fiscal Year.