At Monday's commission meeting, the Loudon County Commission once again extended the contract with Blount County to continue to accept and house Blount county stray and abandoned animals. The lone dissenting vote came from Commissioner Earlena Maples who once again brought to the commission's attention what a great deal Blount County is getting at the cost of Loudon County tax payers.

The Loudon County Animal Shelter's budget has gone up nearly 70% since it began taking the Blount County animals. This vote extended the contract till Blount County builds a new shelter of their own which could mean Loudon County will be picking up the tab for Blount County indefinitely.

Loudon County expected to renew deal for Blount animals

By Joel Davis
of The Daily Times Staff

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp expects his County Commission to renew an agreement to accept Blount County stray animals during a special called meeting Monday.

Blount County is currently relying on the Loudon County Animal Shelter to house homeless and abandoned animals at a cost of $4,000 per month.

Technically, the agreement runs out Monday, but Arp said he expects the Loudon County Commission to act soon.

“Yes,” Arp said during a telephone interview on Tuesday. That was the general talk (at a June 16 work session). It’s on the agenda for commission approval next Monday night. We moved the July meeting .. (to June) 30th to accommodate some budget changes ... We just put that on the agenda, too, so we’re going to get it all done together.”

The Blount County Commission last Thursday approved the appropriation of $430,000 to begin construction of a new animal shelter. County Finance Director Dave Bennett said that once the contract with Carico Construction Inc. of Louisville is signed, work will start as soon as possible.

“I would say by mid-July at latest we’ll see construction start on the part we’re going to be able to do,” Bennett said.

The county expects the initial $430,000 to fund the construction of kennels and the shell of the facility.

“That way we can relieve our friends in Loudon county from the contract they’ve been so gracious to allow us to have,” Bennett said.

Arp said his commission will consider extending the agreement another six months. “Blount County takes care of our prisoners when we get overcrowded, so maybe we can help with the animal situation,” he said.

Loudon County is charging just enough to break even, Arp said. “We’re not making any amount of money off of it, but we’re not losing any money,” he said.

The estimated cost to build the animal shelter as designed is $1.6 million. The $430,000, which includes $80,000 in funds raised by the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation and $350,000 in seed money that the commission authorized in 2007, will only allow the core of the facility to be built.

The new shelter is being built on a 12-acre site located behind the Boys and Girls Club, 241 Currie Ave., in Maryville. On April 19, 2007, the Blount County Commission authorized spending $350,000 in seed money for an animal shelter. The commission approved the floating of a short-term loan from the county debt service fund balance to pay for the project.

Animal control has been a subject of controversy since the previous County Commission declined to continue funding a contract with the city of Maryville for animal control services. That contract expired Dec. 31, 2006.