The Wilson County Commission was wise to defer a plan that would have effectively eliminated about $35,000 annually from New Leash on Life’s budget Monday.
To the contrary, it’s a little disheartening the issue itself got this far – to the commission’s agenda – before it garnered so much interest in the community. That’s not to say the community as a whole didn’t have access to Animal Control Committee meetings where it was discussed.
But there’s a lot to consider when even the executive director of New Leash on Life, Amy Haverstick, learned of the potential decision in the newspaper.
“It’s hard to understand not even being consulted on this or notified on this when it affects our budget like it does and when it’s plainly stated in the act that the money goes to us,” said Haverstick.
The $2 domestic animal tax was implemented in 1980 by county voters and is a major source of revenue for locally based animal rescue organization New Leash on Life.
The 1980 referendum passed was for the organization’s use in “animal control,” but at the time the county didn’t operate an animal control department until 2003.
The proposed resolution will be considered in tandem with another resolution that would levy a $5 domestic animal fee due when pet owners get vaccinations for their animals.
Of that fee, 5 percent would go to the county clerk’s office for processing costs, and the remainder would go to an operating fund for the county’s animal control department.
Ultimately, the commission scheduled a community meeting for Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Wilson County Courthouse to allow the public to voice their support or concerns on the proposed measure.
While that is certainly a modest first step in potentially rectifying a move that could have a damaging effect on an organization that does so much in our community, more could be done.
Just as in 1980, the issue could, and probably should, be presented to Wilson County voters in the form of a referendum.
There’s an election not too far in the future and ultimately would give the voters a chance to decide.
Then again, with the full commission up for election in 2014, maybe a decision could be made even in the absence of a referendum.