ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) – Monday night, Carter County’s Mayor removed himself from any managerial and administrative role in the shared city, county animal shelter.
Following that announcement, the county commission voted to form a transition team. That team would include city council and county commissioners.
The Elizabethton/Carter Co. shelter is still at the center of a state investigation initiated by County Mayor Leon Humphrey, over concerns of fraud and abuse. He asked the city for an increase in funding to help solve these problems but earlier this month the city reduced their funding by $27,000, that money going to the county rescue squad.
This proposed transition team aims to be temporary between 90 days and six months. It would include seven people, two city council members to be named, two county commissioners, Buford Peters and Randall Jenkins, the director of the animal shelter, Shannon Posada, Finance Director Christa Byrd, and a member of the animal shelter advisory board.
“I believe in this decision in good mindset, I fulfilled my obligations and I wish you the utmost best in your funding decision as far as your daily management and administration of the facility,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey added that there is not a rule stating the county mayor has to oversee the shelter, but he chose to. The conversation continued with public comment, including those who volunteer with the shelter. After multiple suggestions from commissioners, but no agreement, the commission moved on to other business. They then had a recess and regrouped.
Finance Committee Chair, Ray Lyons later had a motion for the transition team, appointing Commissioner Buford Peters as the liaison. Lyons said the transition team aims to form a better relationship between all parties involved, to eventually finalize a 5013C non-profit organization.
Volunteers who spoke said a 5013C would help with donations and fundraising and they’re they can move forward in a positive way.
Following Lyons’ motion, concerns over a possible violation of the opening meetings act, otherwise known as the Sunshine Law, came up. County Attorney, Josh Hardin said they needed to have an open conversation about it before it was voted on and that if anything was discussed outside of this meeting and commissioners are voting based on that, their concerns need to be voiced.
Following the conversation, the commission voted in favor of the transition team.
County Attorney Hardin said he’ll contact Elizabethton’s city attorney tomorrow to discuss a possible new contract between the two entities regarding the animal shelter. The city still has to agree.
Mayor Humphrey said once the state comptroller’s investigation comes back, the transition team will have the information. He added that he has a lawful obligation to continue working with the comptroller’s office in the investigation in the shelter and that won’t change with this change in leadership. He still doesn’t recommend allowing volunteers to work at the shelter amidst the investigation.
County commissioners also got their first look at the county’s final budget, that budget includes a proposed property tax increase.
The proposed increase is 4 cents, from $2.45 to $2.49. That means you’ll four more cents for every $100 of your assessed property.
Commissioners say the tax hike would pay for raises and projects. One cent will go towards county employees raises and county schools asked for a one cent increase.
The Carter County Board of Commissioners will vote on it at their next meeting July 17th.
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