Arp's Doggie Deal Costly To Tax Payers

Back in February 2007, County Commission voted to begin housing Blount County animals in the Loudon County Animal Shelter. Blount County refused to pay the $22,000.00 per month requested by the City Of Maryville who had been handling Blount County's animal control for years. Loudon County Mayor, Doyle Arp, struck a deal with Blount County Mayor, Jerry Cunningham, for Loudon County to take care of their animals till they could build a shelter of their own. Blount offered to pay $4,000.00 per month to Loudon County for the service.

In the last two years, the Animal shelter budget has exploded. In 2006, the shelter expenditures were just less than $150,000.00. In 2007 expenditures rose to $188,000.00. The requested budget for shelter operations for 2008 is $261,600.00. That's nearly a 70% increase in just two years. The housing of Blount County animals must be contributing the massive increase in operating cost of the shelter.

The $4,000.00 per month Blount County promised to pay Loudon County hardly offsets the cost increase suffered by the shelter. Blount County now hopes to have their new shelter open by the end of this year. See story below. Loudon County Commission will discuss another contract extension with Blount County at the June 16th workshop.

With Loudon County residents looking at yet another property tax increase, it's unfortunate that we also have to carry the cost of taking care of Blount County's problems.

Loudon to consider renewing animal accord with Blount

By Joel Davis of The Daily Times Staff

As the Blount County Commission nears a decision on starting the construction of a new animal shelter, the Loudon County Commission has not yet decided whether to renew an agreement to continue accepting Blount County's animals.

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp said his commission will discuss renewing the agreement at its workshop on Monday.

"We haven't approved it, but it will be on the workshop agenda for Monday night," Arp said. "I got a message from Mayor (Jerry) Cunningham the other night requesting that we put it on the agenda. That is just a workshop Monday night, It's not an official vote until July 6."

Blount County is currently relying on the Loudon County Shelter to house homeless and abandoned animals. The Loudon County Commission has agreed to accept stray and unwanted animals at the Loudon County Animal Shelter for $4,000 per month.

Technically, the agreement runs out June 30. How long will Loudon County be willing to continue accepting Blount County animals?

"I don't know," Arp said. "That will be brought up Monday night, I'm sure."

The Blount County Commission will consider appropriating $430,000 to begin construction of a new animal shelter at its June 19 meeting. Cunningham said Wednesday that if the contract with Carico Construction Inc. of Louisville is approved, work could start almost immediately.

"They've already done grade-work on the roads," he said. "I think they're ready to go."

Rick Yeager, chairman of the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation's Construction Committee, is hoping that construction will start before the end of June.

"We're hoping that it will be done by year's end," he said. "I don't know exactly what their construction schedule is, but based on how we do it, we're hoping that we'll be at a point by the end of the year where we can start working out of that shelter."

SMACF has been spearheading the effort to build the new shelter and has been raising funds.

"It'll be nice when it actually starts construction," Yeager said. "I'll have a little less involvement on that end and a little more involvement on continuing to raise more money and trying to get more donors."

The estimated cost to build the animal shelter as designed is $1.6 million. County Finance Director Dave Bennett said Tuesday 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 very 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.