Commissioners Respond to Lawsuit involving Animal Shelter Funding

In response to the letter from the Clay County Animal Shelter, regarding the lawsuit surrounding SB65.

(Please click on green wording below to view the lawsuit in its entirety, along with Senate Bill 65, which also serves as Exhibit A in the suit)

Commission Lawsuit

lawsuit supported document

The Clay County Commission has supported the animal shelter to the tune of $5000 per year. Those funds are included in the 2017 budget and currently there have been no plans made to change any of that. However in response to the commission stance to oppose this bill, let’s look at the whole picture.


Senator Dial took it upon himself to introduce this legislation in Montgomery without so much as discussing it with the commission or any other leaders in this county. As a commission we must make decisions based on what is best for the county as a whole. Funds continue to shrink, people continue to move away, and no new funds become available. We want what’s best for this county. Period. But is it fair for a senator to divert money without discussing it with the people it affects? Now if he wants to put it on a ballot and let the people of the county decide to give that money to the animal shelter, we will gladly back away, even if we have to cut funds elsewhere. Because that’s what will happen. As it stands now, this has been much like taxation without representation. When an elected official just decides to use his office to heavy hand the local government. Does that sound fair?

The Commission is challenging the constitutionality of SB65 because:

A. The state constitution states that public money cannot be distributed to a private entity not under the control of the state or any of its subdivisions unless those appropriations were approved by a 2/3rds vote of all members elected to each house. SB65 violates article IV ss 73 of the Alabama constitution
B. Only 16 of 35 members of the senate and 18 of 105 members of the house voted in favor of this legislation. Clearly this is not 2/3rds in either house.

It is important to note that we continue to lose funds from the state and federal government. For instance federal payment in leiu of taxes ( for national forest) dropped from $83,850 in 2016 to just $48,277 in 2017.

As for the statement made by the animal shelter that due to this action by the commission they can no longer accept animals, how is that the case? There have been no funds removed from the shelter. Not one dime. The same funds that the shelter has been receiving will continue. This lawsuit is to stop more funds from being pulled from the county and shifted to the animal shelter. So how does that stop the operation of the shelter? It has been operating until notification of this action. And just so the public knows, even if the action was allowed to stand, no funds would go towards the shelter until NEXT year. How does that affect the shelter today?
The bottom line is this. The money is not there to offer that much support to the animal shelter. Where should we cut services to do so? Because that is what will have to happen if that much is pulled away from the general fund.

For informational purposes here is a breakdown of the county general fund expenditures for 2017 thus far

For 2017, there has been general fund expenditures of $2,397,487.23:

$1,234,956.06 to the sheriffs office and jail. That’s roughly 55% of the general fund
$478,336.36 was For commission office, staff, upkeep of all county buildings
$33,006.50 for board of registrars
$3,470.74 for airport
$9,153.36 for farmers market
$43,465.11 for county maintenance department
$106,161.94 for EMA
$14,262.58 for coroner
$213,747.73 for probate office and staff
$29,115.75 for courthouse (utilities)
$17,761.01 for courthouse security
$14,218.75 for the supernumerary pay (retirement to former Sherriff
$8,072.47 for the recycling center
$34,754.52 for the elderly transport
$5000 for rescue squad
$5000 for animal shelter

Also included in these are the commission responsibilities for state offices located here in the county. We are required by the state to pay these.

$82,160.34 for the revenue commissioner
$3,226.63 for phones in circuit judge
$1,825.28 for phones in circuit clerks office
$5,259.87 for telephone and utilities for district attorney
$316.80 for phone for juvenile probation office
$257.76 for phone for drivers license office
$4,452.32 for utilities and phone for extension office

Clay County Commissioners. Photo courtesy of The Clay-Times Journal

Signed, Clay County Commissioners

  • Bennie Morrison, District 1
  • Donald Harris, District 2
  • Ray Milstead, District 3/ Chairman
  • Greg Denney, District 4
  • Ricky Burney

 

The Clay County Animal Shelter has stated that without these funds, they may be forced to close their doors and have established a Gofundme account. Click here to donate:https://www.gofundme.com/shelter-legal-fund

 

 

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One thought on “Commissioners Respond to Lawsuit involving Animal Shelter Funding”

  1. The reason the shelter cannot accept additional animals because of the current lawsuit is about concern for our animals. If the shelter has to close, we will not just open the doors and tell the cats and dogs “Go, good luck, don’t get run over, hope you don’t starve”. We have to find homes, foster homes, rescue centers, shelters for the animals. And we are concern about which over crowed shelter can help us, which foster family can add just one or two more dogs to the group they already have, which home can adopt just one more cat.

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