Maryville interested in animal shelter agreement
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The city of Maryville is receptive to ongoing discussions concerning an interlocal agreement which would allow the Blount County Animal Shelter to receive stray or abandoned animals from Maryville and Alcoa.
The agreement is a “worthy idea to make it viable,” said Maryville City Manager Greg McClain. “The Blount County community — and Maryville, in particular — value the animals that we collect, and it’s certainly a worthy effort to have a unified process to guarantee that those animals have a home. We want every pet to have a home.”
Maryville could benefit from the joint venture, he said. “It makes sense for Maryville to participate in a regional animal shelter. However, all jurisdictions would have to pay their fair share. We need very definitive numbers.”
The Blount County Commission will consider the agreement at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell approached the cities of Alcoa and Maryville about the plan, McClain said. County officials later submitted a proposed agreement, and Maryville officials submitted a proposed addendum that fleshed out the agreement’s terms. The addendum creates a formula for annual operating payments, in addition to specifying terms for a pro rata share of capital and equipment costs.
County officials have projected annual costs for receiving stray or abandoned animals from the two cities. They have estimated:
• Maryville would pay $66,000 for annual operation costs and $8,070 for annual capital allocation;
• Alcoa would pay $17,250 for annual operation costs and $2,100 for annual capital allocation.
The Blount County Animal Center costs about $330,000 per year, said Blount County Finance Director Randy Vineyard. The funds would serve as possible revenue streams.
City officials need to learn more about the shelter’s costs, including in-kind contributions such as volunteers, McClain said. To date, they haven’t seen a total cost.
City shelter stays open
The interlocal agreement wouldn’t result in overall cost savings for the city of Maryville, he said. “We might have incremental savings in shelter costs, but it’s a small part of our overall budget.”
Maryville’s animal center, which also takes Alcoa’s animals, will have to remain open, McClain said. The city’s shelter, located at 426 Home Ave., would be required to shelter animals such as coyotes, raccoons, snakes and turtles, that the Blount County Animal Shelter couldn’t accommodate. The city shelter would also shelter cats and dogs when the county shelter is closed. Maryville’s animal shelter meets all the requirements to be a no-kill shelter, McClain said. However, the city hasn’t undertaken the steps to be labeled as one.
Under their respective city ordinances, Maryville and Alcoa animal control employees would continue to pick up animals in their cities. Animal control employees would then bring them to the Blount County Animal Shelter, and the center would become custodians of those animals under county animal center regulations.
Any of the three parties could terminate the contract by giving six months notice, according to the proposed agreement.
The city of Alcoa hasn’t been “directly involved” in discussions related to the agreement, said Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson. “We’ve deferred to Maryville, which is taking the primary lead.”
City officials have some questions related to cost, but they haven’t addressed them, he said. Alcoa’s current fee is “significantly less” than county cost estimates.
Alcoa is currently paying $2,500 per year, Johnson said. The city, which ran an animal shelter for the entire county until the late 1960s, is also seeing recent reductions in its number of stray or abandoned animals.
The city of Maryville would like to see other incorporated areas become involved in the venture, McClain said. “We’re looking at this proposal with interest if all the other incorporated areas are involved. To make this truly fair, every incorporated entity needs to be at the table.”
City officials are cognizant of budget problems related to animal control services, he said. “We’ve subsidized our problems all along.”
Maryville previously provided animal control services to the county, McClain said. “We provided the same high quality of service to the county as we did to Maryville. We ran on all animal-related issues.”
Animal control employees responded to 4,685 calls in 2005 and 4,421 in 2006, and more than 70 percent of calls originated outside the city limits, he said. They responded to 3,432 calls and 3,105 calls in the county, respectively.
The city of Maryville boarded a similar percentage of animals from the county. City officials provided The Daily Times with activity reports from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2006.
In 2003, Maryville’s animal shelter boarded 3,191 animals. The shelter boarded:
• 263 Alcoa animals, or 8.3 percent;
• 2,359 Blount County animals, or 73.9 percent;
• 33 Friendsville animals, or 1 percent;
• 521 Maryville animals, or 16.3 percent;
• 15 Rockford animals, or 0.5 percent.
Incorporated areas boarded a similar percentage of animals between 2004 and 2006.
Alcoa boarded 261 out of 3,091 animals in 2004; 279 out of 3,229 animals in 2005; 267 out of 2,764 animals in 2006. The city boarded 8.4 percent of all total animals in 2004, 8.6 percent in 2005 and 9.7 percent in 2006.
Blount County boarded 2,262 animals, or 73.2 percent, in 2004; 2,329, or 72.1 percent, in 2005; and 1,910, or 69.1 percent, in 2006.
Friendsville boarded 15 animals, or 0.5 percent, in 2004. The city didn’t board its animals in 2005 and 2006.
Maryville boarded 530 animals, or 17.1 percent, in 2004; 614, or 19 percent, in 2005; and 575, or 20.8 percent, in 2006.
Rockford boarded 23 animals, or 0.8 percent, in 2004; 7, or 0.2 percent, in 2005; and 12, or 0.4 percent, in 2006.
During fiscal years 2005 and 2006, Blount County paid a flat fee of $138,348. The county’s fee accounted for 42.7 percent and 41.1 percent of budgeted funds, respectively. The amount accounted for 44.6 percent and 46.3 percent of actual funds, respectively.
The city of Maryville proposed a $50,092 increase for fiscal year 2007, which would have brought the county’s total fee to $188,440. Blount County Commission declined to fully fund the request, and commissioners later decided to build the Blount County Animal Shelter.
“We were subsidizing general county more and more each year,” McClain said. “The whole premise was to go back and review the fee structure. We weren’t asking them to go back and compensate us for past years.”
City officials estimate that they haven’t recuperated $90,000, he said.