Toccoa City Commission Re-affirms Shelter Loan

Toccoa City Commissioners re-affirm a previous decision regarding funding for the new Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter.

Following a 90-minute discussion during a Friday work session, city commissioners made no change in their decision to provide a $200,000 bridge loan to the humane shelter to help cover construction and supply costs.

Back on September 24, the Toccoa City Commission first unanimously approved a loan of up to $200,000 from the city’s Commission Reserve Account to cover additional costs associated with the new Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter contingent on the county being responsible for 50 percent of the loan. The next morning, Stephens County Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to guarantee up to 50 percent with a maximum of $100,000 of the city’s loan to the shelter.

On Friday, multiple commissioners say they felt there was confusion over what exactly was done that led to concerns.

City Commissioner Gail Fry said her confusion comes from a discussion following that September 24 meeting with Stephens County Commissioner Harold Andrews.

“The city of course, going to pay its $100,000, but I thought at our meeting that we left here contingent on the county agreeing to pay half of it, up to $100,000, and then Harold said it was only if the shelter defaulted,” said Fry.

Toccoa City Commissioner Ron Seib said it was a timing issue regarding the county providing money and adds that he feels the county is obligated to half of the amount.

Shelter board representatives add that they understand that they are obligated to re-pay the city the $200,000 loan.

Meanwhile, Seib said he is concerned about the fact that the city stopped providing money to the shelter from that $200,000 loan even after the shelter requested the money.

“We basically offered a draw loan of $200,000, that is what we did,” said Seib. “Now, we have got a paid executive trying to order supplies on a 4 to 8 week lead time and he is not able to do that because we are being told he cannot issue the check. That is my concern.”

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson said he just wants to make sure that the city wants to provide the entire $200,000 before a payback arrangement is put in place.

“If this commission wants me to go ahead and give the money to the shelter, which I will do, do you want me to do it before there is a clear understanding of how we are going to be paid back?” asked Jackson, who was not at the September 24 meeting.

City officials said it is not an issue of support for the shelter, but just wanting to understand how the city is going to be paid back.

City commissioners did unanimously vote to draw up documents to support the loan.