By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

County Provides Animal Transport Services – Brevard NC

 

January 30, 2017



County commissioners have approved setting a $10 fee to transport privately owned pets to and from Asheville for spay/neuter services.

During last week’s commissioners’ meeting, Animal Services Director Elma Rae Greene recommended the proposal. The move is part of an effort to address the impact of the local spay/neuter clinic on Ecusta Road closing in December.

Greene told commissioners there are about 14,000 cats and dogs in the county, with about 25 percent of them not sterilized.

Animal Services, in a partnership with Friends of the Animal Shelter, is working to develop a program to make low-cost spay/neuter services available.

Local law mandates all animals must be spayed or neutered before leaving the county’s Animal Shelter.

Animal Services is now transporting animals to the Humane Alliance in Asheville, using a maintenance van.

Greene said that currently local citizens are making about 50 trips a month to Asheville to have animals spayed or neutered. Animal Services is transporting about 20 to 30 animals a month. Greene characterized the winter months as a slow time for animal activity and numbers, and said the numbers will increase as the weather gets warmer.

With the clinic now closed, Greene said, pet owners are contacting Animal Services about transporting the animals to Asheville.

Animal Services would not be making additional trips to transport the private pets to Asheville. The pets would be transported at the same time as the animals from the shelter are taken to Asheville.

The $10 fee will help make the new service “sustainable,” Greene said.

Commissioners asked Greene to monitor the service and the number of animals that are transported, and report back with findings.

In other action at the meeting:

•Commissioners adopted a recommendation to have a graded point system in place for evaluating vehicles in the county government’s fleet.

Vehicles will be issued points from one to five based on factors, such as age, mileage and average annual maintenance costs.

This point system would be used for the upcoming budget to evaluate vehicle replacement requests. The point system would not apply to the Solid Waste Department or the library because their vehicles are specialized, such as the bookmobile.

Commissioners also asked staff to develop a policy to make sure that routine maintenance is being done consistently across departments.

These initial actions came after hearing a report on the county’s vehicle fleet from Jonathan Griffin, the county’s data analyst.

The points system is roughly the same as the ones used by Montgomery County — which is somewhat similar in size to Transylvania – and the City of Brevard.

Griffin came away with two primary findings: the county needs to create a framework for better communication and retention of data about its vehicle fleet, and would benefit from the adoption of a formalized system of evaluating proposals for vehicle replacements.

The county has 141 vehicles spread across its departments, including 62 for the Sheriff’s Office, 13 for Solid Waste, seven ambulances and one bookmobile.

The average age of the vehicles is nine years old and the average mileage for the vehicles is 87,000, with yearly lifetime maintenance costs totaling $4,100. The county contracts with the city for its vehicle maintenance.

Griffin found that if the city contacts a county department about a vehicle’s maintenance, there is no system in place to check if the department follows through on the maintenance. The Sheriff’s Office would also like a specific policy just for its vehicles.

The American Public Works Association recommends replacing law enforcement vehicles at 80,000 miles, or 36 months of duty, whichever comes first. If implemented, this policy would mean 11 vehicles have to be replaced. The five most recent vehicle purchases for the Sheriff’s Office averaged about $47,000, meaning it would cost about $517,000 to bring the uniformed divisions up to speed.

Aside from the patrol vehicles, vehicles for non-uniformed officers would need to be considered, Griffin pointed out. If replaced at 100,000 miles, or on a 48-month rotation, 11 of the vehicles would need to be replaced as well, costing about $1,034,000 to implement.

There are currently 29 vehicles that have a uniformed officer. To meet the industry standard would mean replacing nine vehicles a year.

Commissioners took no action on creating a separate policy for the Sheriff’s Office.

•Commissioners approved spending $37,444 to upgrade the Sheriff’s Office fingerprint computer system. The Sheriff’s Office received the current system in 2008.

The funds to upgrade the system will come from the fund balance, and staff plans for the additional inmate revenue from other counties be used to replace the fund balance funds at the end of the fiscal year.

•Commissioners approved spending $7,450 from the fund balance to purchase software for Affordable Care Act reporting.

•Finance Director Gay Poor gave commissioners an update on the county’s finances through the second quarter of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

General fund revenues have reached 56.9 percent of the current approved budget. Sales tax revenues are up, exceeding projections by 13.3 percent.

Real property excise and building inspection fees exceeded the prior year and the budget projection.

Revenues are at expected levels for a normal year. General fund expenditures were at 45.9 percent of the budget, or 1 percent higher than last year.

Utilities and fuel costs are running below budget.

Solid waste revenues were at 55.2 percentage of budget, while expenditures were at 51.9 percent.

Poor also went through budget amendments that have occurred so far this fiscal year.

The original budget has increased by $1,885,103, with $1,217,589 coming from grants and increases in funding from outside sources.

Also, $362,066 was carried forward from the previous year for purchases and projects initiated in the last fiscal year and not completed at the end of that fiscal year.

Another $300,348 was amended from fund balance, including solid waste compliance repairs, $90,090; a solid waste track hoe replacement, $134,525; Animal Services staffing due to loss of inmate labor, $42,946; the Sheriff’s Office’s tuition assistance policy, $30,397; and insurance claims proceeds, $5,100.

Commissioners also approved two other budget amendments: $19,400 from the fund balance reserve for river clean up for debris removal; and $7,265 from Animal Shelter fees to be used for spaying and neutering.

•Commissioners approved a request from Cedar Mountain Fire Rescue to sign a letter indicating the county is aware the fire department will seek a loan to reduce its annual debt service payments by extending the loan length and reducing the interest rate.

•In her report, County Manager Jaime Laughter noted the efforts of county department staff and others — Emergency Management, EMS, fire departments, Parks and Recreation, Building Services, Rescue Squad and Fire Marshal’s office — to help with the recent evacuation caused by a burst water pipe at Cedar Mountain House.

Laughter also noted the following retirements —Sheila Hunter (Transportation), Emmerson O’Shields (Solid Waste) and Richard Fry (Parks and Recreation).

•During public comment, Candice Walsh, executive director of The Cindy Platt Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County, gave an update on the club. The club, which was founded by the late Cindy Platt in 1999, is a youth development organization focused on helping students reach their full potential.

The club’s three main focus areas are academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship.

When started, the club was serving less than 50 students a day. It’s now serving more than 250 a day, with the need increasing. Last year, the club served 702 school-aged youth during its after-school and summer programs.

Of those students being served, 62 percent receive free or reduced lunches in the school system.

Of these students, 45 percent live in households bringing in less than $30,000 a year.

Eighty percent of the families served by the club don’t earn the required $14 an hour for sufficient lodging, food and child care, Walsh said.

The club has reached capacity at the current 25,000-square-facility on Gallimore Road, Walsh said, and the club has a waiting list of 60 children.

The club is exploring relocating the high school students to another site to deal with the growth. Walsh said the club wants to partner with the county and others to meet these increasing needs.

•Commissioners appointed the following: Jonathan Griffin to temporarily replace Keith McCoy, who recently retired as the county’s transportation director, on the Council on Aging; Delores Stroup and Dan Hodges to the Regional Council on Aging; David Reid to the Abandoned Cemeteries Board; Allyson Davenport to the Workforce Development Board; and James Cruickshank and Jim Lorenz to the Board of Equalization and Review.

•Work is continuing on the 2025 Transylvania County Comprehensive Plan, with commissioners continuing to provide comments on suggested changes to the document.

At some point, a public hearing will be held on the plan before a vote is taken on its adoption.

The draft plan is available at http://planning.transylvaniacounty.org/comprehensive-overview.

 
 

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