Dougherty County commissioners approve animal control contract, budget

The Dougherty County Commission agreed on Monday to a 10-year contract with the Albany Humane Society.

ALBANY — The Dougherty County Commission on Monday approved a $77,000 contract with the Albany Humane Society for housing and disposing of stray and nuisance animals.

Commissioners also finalized a 2020-2021 budget during a special called meeting.

The 10-year contract calls for the Humane Society’s Albany shelter to accept animals collected by the county’s animal control officers in unincorporated Dougherty County. The shelter also will accept animals involved in biting incidents and rabies cases. The contract also allows the Humane Society to charge a $50 fee per animal for intakes made after hours and on weekends.

“The 10-year contract that preceded this contract had a fixed rate of $54,000,” Albany attorney Joe Dent, who represents the Humane Society, said.

If the total number of animals exceeds 700 in a given year, the contract allows a per-animal cost of $55 for each additional animal.

“My question: Is there a budgetary cap that was set up” to cover animals in excess of 700, Commissioner Russell Gray said.

Dent said he could not immediately provide information on the average number of animals the county placed with the Humane Society over the 10 years of the current contract. County Administrator Michael McCoy said he will provide the information to commissioners.

The Humane Society does not collect the disposal fee in cases where an animal is adopted from the agency, Dent said.

Commissioners approved the contract with a 6-0 vote, with Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas abstaining because he works in the same law firm with Dent. Under the contract, which begins Wednesday, the Humane Society can seek an adjustment to increase the annual payment to reflect increases in the amount of rent the agency pays and inflation.

Commissioners also approved the county’s $70.9 million budget by a unanimous vote. The budget total represents a 0.6% increase to the general fund budget and a 1.5% overall increase, McCoy said.

“The increase is less than inflation and obviously much less than it has been over a normal budget year,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county’s budget projections call for a 15 percent drop in sales tax receipts due to the pandemic.

“This will be a challenge going forward, and I am sure we will be able to adapt,” McCoy said.

The spending plan calls for using up to $5.8 million from the county’s reserve funds to make up for any shortfall. County staff will monitor the budget closely and plans to give a report in October on the status of revenues, McCoy added.

In other business, the commission:

♦ Re-appointed incumbent Albany-Dougherty Land Bank Board member Robert J. Middleton to a two-year term;

♦ Re-appointed Leonard Minter and Richard Ware to serve three-year terms on the board of ASPIRE Behavioral Health & Disability Services. Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler also was appointed to a three-year term for the board position required to be filled by an elected official;

♦ Appointed Department of Family & Children Services Board incumbents Bill Edge and Catherine Hill two five-year terms;

♦ Approved acceptance of a $100,000 grant for a health initiative partnership with Flint River Fresh and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.

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