The Wilson County Budget Committee approved an extension on an agreement that would provide $50,000 in annual funding for New Leash on Life’s spay and neuter services at its meeting Thursday.

County Attorney Mike Jennings introduced the resolution, which is meant to allow the Wilson County Commission to continue that funding despite its policy against charitable donations tied to county services outside of its budget process.

“COVID-19 hit, the comptroller said let’s get your budget done, we went through with the status quo, we didn’t have anybody come in and make their dog and pony show pitch about how they ought to get money,” Jennings said. “In this situation, New Leash on Life couldn’t come in. They’re not waiting until now because they wanted to, they couldn’t come in during the budget time.”

Jennings said those circumstances should keep from setting a precedent for other organizations if New Leash on Life’s funding is approved.

“The intent is to continue appropriating $50,000 in future years … unless this commission takes action not to,” he said. “So in other words, it would be $50,000 pretty much by contract.”

New Leash on Life Director Angela Chapman said the shelter currently spays or neuters an estimated 4,000 animals per year on a $250,000 budget, numbers that are expected to grow alongside the county’s population.

The resolution would credit them with $50 per cat and $75 per dog from the county’s general fund up to $50,000, with any remaining funds returned to the county’s fund balance each fiscal year. New Leash on Life plans to share that information with the county in its quarterly reports.

“We didn’t have this type of agreement before, so this is new territory,” Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard said. “The agreement that we had before was very simply, $50,000 a year for three years. There was no attachment as far as X dollars per animal.”

Chapman said the shelter is usually able to extend the $50,000’s value — both because of copay agreements and a higher number of cats needing to be fixed.

“We really just try to split up the amount into a quarterly, and then our focus is that we do a lot more cats than dogs trying to stretch dollars as far as we can,” she said. “Thankfully, part of that is that we started really heavy with dogs. We’ve seen a decline in animals going into Animal Control, cats are what we keep hearing about as a major concern so we’ve shifted our focus.”

The Wilson County Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 21, in the Wilson County Courthouse.

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