Toccoa Commission Discuss Shelter Budget

Toccoa City Commissioners said they will not give the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter more than the $150,000 they have budgeted for the shelter and animal control in Fiscal Year 2015.

The city commission discussed the issue during a work session on Tuesday.

Toccoa Mayor Gail Fry said that money is limited and the shelter has to understand what the city’s and the county’s budgets are when operating and that every animal may not be saved.

“Everybody loves animals, but we are not in the business of saving every single stray animal in Stephens County,” said Fry. “That was not the goal of the animal shelter.”

The city, county, and shelter have been working to try to acquire prison labor from Lee Arrendale Prison in Alto to help provide staffing at the shelter and save money in the budget.

However at the shelter board meeting earlier this month, Shelter Director Jeff Roberts and the shelter board discussed possible challenges with transporting that help back and forth because they are a different classification of inmate and must travel separately from other prison labor used from Alto.

City Commissioner Jeanette Jamieson said that while there may be challenges, the benefits of using the labor are many and a way around the challenges needs to be figured out.

“If we cannot find a way to pick up two inmates, I will get them myself,” said Jamieson. “What does it take to go to Alto? It just does not take that long.”

Jamieson suggested that it might be possible to work with Habersham County on this issue since they use labor from the same location.

Jamieson also expressed frustration with the way the shelter board has been operating.

She said the shelter board holds meetings and talks, but never accomplishes anything.

“We are going to have do something,” said Jamieson. “We are either going to have to reorganize that board or do something to make it more businesslike. It comes across in the media reporting exactly like it is, like herding cats, you cannot do that.”

Jamieson said the animal shelter, because of all the issues and the money put into it by the city and county, has become a very distasteful project in the county.

The city and county have each budgeted $150,000 in Fiscal Year 2015 at this point for a total budget of $300,000 to cover shelter operations and animal control.

The shelter requested about $226,000 from each entity for a total of about $452,000 in Fiscal Year 2015.