After several separate discussions and one joint conversation between the cities of Berea and Richmond, along with Madison County, Berea officials commented on the financing of the Madison County Animal Shelter Tuesday night.
The topic of paying for the animal shelter arose at a joint government meeting last month and whether the county was adequately providing services to Richmond and Berea. The county, which maintains the shelter, sent invoices to both cities requesting their share of operational and maintenance costs.
Berea paid 10% of the total costs, or $32,433 for 2018-2019, while Richmond contributed 30% and Madison County 60%.
Administrator Randy Stone said that in previous years and according to former ordinances, the two cities were required to contribute $7,500 each, which Berea has paid, and was sent an additional invoice for the remainder of what the county has been requesting for several months.
"Last Friday I received a letter from the judge's office pretty much saying, 'If you don't pay up by the last day of July, there is no service in the city of Berea," Stone said.
Council member Steve Caudill expressed concerns, similar to the city of Richmond, questioning the amount being asked of the city and if they were receiving the services promised. He also asked if the county could cease offering their services since Berea taxpayer dollars go toward the shelter.
"We need to talk about policies and procedures so that the citizens of the city of Berea are served appropriately if we are going to pay $30,000 annually to give to an animal shelter," he said. "Now I fully support the animal shelter, and I think we need to do more. We need to probably have better facilities, but just to throw money at it, I'm not sure that is the solution…
"I'm not even entirely sure how you can turn the city off, when it comes to a county service that we are already paying for through our citizens."
Council member Ronnie Terrill asked Stone if the KRS ordinance mandated that the shelter be the responsibility of the county or the city.
Stone replied, saying that while KRS is open for interpretation, there were statements saying it should be run by the county, but with cooperation between both the county and the city.
"I want to discuss the service we are currently getting, and what we will be getting before I commit to anything like that, that is just my opinion," Caudill reiterated. "Again, I 100% support the animal shelter, but the fact remains I would love to know that of the 79 calls, did we go out and do something? Because if you are going to be cutting out a service that is not getting followed through on, you aren't cutting anything out from me."
Mayor Bruce Fraley stated the shelter would continue with or without Berea's contribution, and the question that remained is whether the city wants the services.
Council member Emily LaDouceur followed up by asking about the alternative if the city stops contributing, leading to discontinued services, and someone has an issue.
"What happens then," she asked.
"We aren't prepared to take that responsibility on and neither is our police department," Stone said.
LaDouceur suggested paying the invoice "as it seems fair" for the calls they contributed and service that the city "definitely accesses and uses."
Caudill requested a representative of the county be present at the next meeting to establish a plan or procedures before deciding to pay the invoice.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.