Doggy Debate Continues


Given the option to pay $4,000 or $22,000.00 per month for a service which would you choose?

At Monday's commission workshop, County Mayor Arp finally decided to bring commission members up to date on the commitment he has apparently already made with "longtime friend and counterpart" Blount County Mayor, Jerry Cunningham. Arp told commissioners what a great idea it would be for Loudon County to take on all of Blount County's stray and abandoned animals and reported that Blount will pay Loudon County $4,000.00 per month for the service.

It's a great idea alright, for Blount County that is. For a county that is nearly double the population of Loudon County to be able pawn off their animal control program for $48,000.00 per year is a dream come true.

Blount County has been wrestling with it's animal control problem for months. The City of Maryville has been providing animal control for Blount County, but that ended on January 1st. Blount County had been paying the City of Maryville $138,349.00 per year for animal services. However, last year after reevaluating their cost, Maryville officials determined that more than 70% of the Maryville operation's costs were being generated by Blount County animal control. Maryville officials requested an additional $125,000.00 in funding from Blount County to continue the service, bringing the total county cost to $263,349.00 per year.  Blount County officials rejected the request refusing to pay the additional funding. Therefore, the City of Maryville refused to continue the service as of January 1. Maryville also contracts animal services for Alcoa and Rockford.

Blount County is working to find a solution to the problem, but by all accounts it will take at least two years to reach a solution. Blount County Commission rejected out right a plan to manage their own animal control program at an annual cost of $350,000.00 per year complaining that that would just be too costly.  Monroe County has already refused to take the Blount County animals citing their, no out of county animals policy.  Enter Loudon County and the good old boy system. According to the Blount County Daily Times, apparently Mayor Arp had cut a deal with Blount County to take their animals before County Commission knew anything about it.

Looking at the simple math, this doesn't look like a very good deal for the tax payers of Loudon County. Before the requested increase, Blount was paying Maryville animal control $11,500.00 per month for their services. With the requested increase, that cost would have risen to nearly $22,000.00 per month. But good old Loudon County will do it for $4,000.00 per month. I guess the old saying is true, "It's good to have friends in high places." Essentially, Loudon County has under cut Maryville for the job. Loudon County pays nearly all the costs, more than $155,000.00 per year, to operate the Loudon County Animal Shelter with only token contributions from Loudon and Lenoir City. 

Blount County's problem is not that they don't have a way to handle their animal control problem, it's just that they don't want to pay for it. If there had been a fire or an earthquake or some unforeseen situation that had put them out of business, that would be different and sure we would want to help. But they have know for a long time that this issue was coming and have absolutely refused to address the problem. Why should that suddenly become a financial burden for Loudon County?

We all care about the treatment of animals, but this goes way beyond helping a neighbor. This will be a long term, open ended, burden on the Loudon County tax payers, employees and facilities.