City and county agreed to new shelter contract

Larry Stanford

June 11, 2014

Bobby Ellington could claim to be the hardest working employee in the City of Thomaston. He already probably has more titles than anyone else. In addition to being a certified police officer and code inspector for the city, Ellington was approved at the City Council’s May 19 meeting to be one of the city’s two new building inspectors. (For more on that story, see the June 3 edition of The Thomaston Times). At that meeting, he was also named the city’s Animal Control Officer.

Previously, the city had service delivery agreement with Upson County in regards to the use and funding of the Upson County Animal Shelter. But after months of negotiation, City Attorney Joel Bently advised the council that a new agreement has been reached.

“The City of Thomaston will be in charge of animal control within the confines of the city limits,” Bentley said. “The City of Thomaston and Upson County have entered into an Animal Shelter agreement where under certain circumstances, Upson County has agreed to house animals for the City of Thomaston, picked up by the City of Thomaston, and also the citizens of the city who choose to take the animals out there themselves, for a fee.

“Subject to the terms of this agreement, the county agrees to permit the city to use its animal shelter for the city’s animal control program. The city shall pay all costs for its animal control staff for animal control by an ad valorem tax levied in the incorporated city. The city shall pay the county a fee of $40 for each animal the city surrenders to the Upson County Animal Shelter, and any and all costs related for animals held for court purposes.

“The intention is that this fee will be paid solely by the city because the funds to run the animal shelter will henceforth be paid for by an ad valorem tax levied in the unincorporated portion of the county,” added Bentley. “So the shelter will be owned by the county and paid for by the citizens of the unincorporated area. The city has entered into a contract to pay for animals that are housed there. I think it works for both parties, the city and the county.”

Council member Don Greathouse asked if the city will have access to the shelter at all times. Bentley said they will.

“The city shall have unrestricted access to the Animal Shelter areas at all times, 24 hours, seven days a week,” Bentley said. “The county will provide two keys to access the Animal Shelter area for after hours access. The city shall restrict the after hours access to the Animal Shelter to city employees only, and shall not allow volunteers, visitors or other unauthorized individuals access. The city shall be responsible for collection of animals from within its corporate limits for delivery to the animal shelter.

When asked what will happen if a citizen takes an animal to the Animal Shelter. Bentley replied that the citizen will pay the $40 fee. Bentley went on to recommend the council approve the agreement.

“This contract and intergovernmental agreement is the product of months of negotiation. The county has already executed this document,” Bentley noted. “It is a document that Mr. Comiskey and I prepared and delivered to the county. I would strongly consider approving this document, because it allows us to fully implement going forward with an animal control program where Mr. Bobby Ellington serves as the Chief Animal Control Officer for the city. He will work with the officials at the Upson County Animal Shelter for sheltering purposes.The contract is very straightforward. It should be very easy for all parties to follow.”

Mayor Hays Arnold echoed Bentley’s sentiments.

“We worked for some time on this agreement, and at long last the county has sent back an agreement,” Arnold said. “it is at the council’s pleasure, but I would make the recommendation that we accept the agreement.”

Council member Gary Atwater made a motion to approve the agreement. Council member Patsy Perdue seconded the motion and it was approved by a 5-0 vote.

Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.