How much and for what? Sullivan County Animal Shelter finances detailed

J. H. Osborne • Aug 10, 2018 at 8:04 AM

BOUNTVILLE — Operation of the Sullivan County Animal Shelter cost county taxpayers nearly $193,000 for the period Jan. 1 through June 30, according to public information on file with the county’s budget office. That six months represents the last half of the county’s 2017-2018 budget cycle — and the first six months after the county regained sole operation of the facility after a years-long contract for its operation with what is now known as Kingsport-based Petworks.

The Times News asked for the public documents on Thursday and received them within a couple of hours.

When the budget year began on July 1, 2017, the partnership with the Kingsport-based nonprofit was still in place and called for county funding of $364,517 per year. So that’s the amount originally budgeted in the county’s 2017-2018 budget. Funding to Petworks, then called SBK, was in quarterly payments (every three months) — at a total of $91,129 per quarter (and included payroll and benefits for two animal control officers, listed as “drivers,” within the county’s payroll).

In late 2017, the Sullivan County Commission voted to dissolve its partnership with SBK as of Jan. 1 and begin operating the Blountville animal shelter facility on its own. That is what is now the Sullivan County Animal Shelter. The county budget account titled “Rabies & Animal Control” continues to be the control account for funding the shelter. As of Jan. 1, half of the $364,517 (or $182,258) already had been directed to SBK/Petworks to cover the July 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017, period.

In county budget documents, employee payroll is listed under the account code “100.” The state comptroller’s office, which issues the rules for county budgeting, designates as “1__” accounts for “personal services” — not the “personnel” many would expect. Anyone familiar with county budgets knows it’s a state, not local, thing and it has been that way for many years.

The documents obtained by the Times News show:

• Between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, the county spent nearly $241,000 on the shelter. 

• Revenue generated by the shelter totaled $47,353 ($29,497 in fees paid by shelter patrons; $750 paid by people reclaiming their dogs that had been picked up as strays; $10,602 in payments from the city of Bristol for animals it sent to the facility; and $6,504 in monetary donations).

• Expenditures on shelter operations during the six-month period included:$100,570 in wages; $32,211 in benefits; $40,419 for services (see detail below); $44,596 for supplies (see details below); and $22,275 for a new truck (SBK kept the newest trucks).

• The wages and benefits paid a staff of 11: two drivers; three office workers (including one no longer there); and six part-time employees. In addition to these actual employees of the shelter, multiple members of county government have been given and taken on responsibilities and extra workload related to operation of the shelter. These include Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey, Information and Technology Director Bobby Runyon, Purchasing Director Kris Davis and others. None of these people have been paid anything above their normal pay and none have been paid anything out of the “Rabies and Animal Control Account.”

• The “services” that totaled $40,419 included: phones (nearly $4,000); building maintenance and repairs ($14,043); equipment maintenance and repairs ($1,749); pest control ($640); disposal fees ($1,201 — for disposition of euthanized animals); veterinary services ($16,496); and various other costs.

• The $44,597 for supplies included: custodial supplies ($8,040); drugs and medical supplies ($8,791); gasoline ($3,102); electricity ($3,478); building materials ($1,793); natural gas ($2,318); office supplies ($2,918); water bill ($1,427); auto parts ($5,262) and other items.

• There is a record of monetary donations, by date and amount. Bailey pointed out the $6,504 is for donations of money and does not include the value of items and time donated by the many volunteers who work at the shelter. He said the county is thankful for and grateful to those who volunteer their time and drop off items and food — without which the county’s cost would be much greater.

• Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8, the shelter had an intake of 1,103 cats and 526 dogs. 321 cats and 329 dogs were adopted, 99 cats and 106 dogs were transferred to other organizations, and six cats and 80 dogs were claimed by their owners. On Aug. 8, the shelter’s headcount included 246 cats and 62 dogs.

The Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee met Thursday night to discuss creation of a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. When the animal shelter came up, Bailey said when the budget draft is presented to the full county commission it will project increasing the “Rabies and Animal Control” account by $200,000 to total $564,572 — with $100,000 of the increase estimated to come from shelter-generated revenue (based on the $47,353 that came in January through June) and the other $100,000 coming from the county’s general fund.