Commissioner Sport asks Council for animal control funds

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Commissioner Merrill Sport spoke to the Luverne City Council during its December meeting regarding funding an animal shelter proposed by the Crenshaw County Animal Society.

“I know the mayor had indicated he was waiting on our lead on this. The big picture is we’ve donated a building and we’ve offered $25,000,” Sport said. “[Now], a lot of people are waiting to see what you are going to do.”

The commission’s only source of new revenue is to raise taxes, which Sport said the county might consider down the road. The county’s monetary contribution came from its reserve funds.

Email newsletter signup

“The county cannot do what you can do at this table or what Brantley can do at their table or Dozier,” he said.

Sport said Rutledge Mayor Beth Rogers would propose a $1 assessment to each household’s water bill if Luverne and the county’s other municipalities pitched in with either an assessment or other funding.

“Because I sat in that chair for 22 years, I know that this is an option,” Sport added. “You guys can sit in here and levy that $1 assessment. But, by that same stipulation, if something happens and it shuts down, it comes off.”

Sport suggested the council send a survey with the next utility bill in order to gauge constituent support, but he reminded them it was not required.

“If you assessed $1 a month on the water bill – that’s not $1 a head, $1 a person, that’s $1 per household – that’s about three cents a day that that household would be willing to donate,” Commissioner Sport said. “That’s not the cost of a piece of bubblegum.”

Kim Kent, vice president of CCAS, said the municipal funds were vital because the nonprofit organization would not be able to raise that much money.

“People will donate food if they know it’s going to animals. People will not donate for a gas bill they will not donate for electricity,” she said.

City Attorney Mike Jones asked if commissioners had seen a budget for the organization.

“How much is it going to take to run this? What if you go and ask for a dollar and a dollar is not enough. If you ask for a dollar and it’s not enough, it’s going to be hard to go back and say, ‘hey we’re going to put another dollar on it.’” He said. “If you at least got a pretty good idea that that’s going to cover it, people would be more receptive to the dollar.”

If all municipalities pitch in, Commissioner Sport estimated they would raise about $4,000 a month for animal control. The funds would cover daily operations, including the minimum wage salaries of two employees.

“The city might consider doing utilities as an in-kind service,” he said. “Or it can see about raising steady, long-term revenue and ask each household on its billing cycle to donate a piece of bubblegum a day and generate about $1,800-1,900 a month. Because I believe, if all the municipalities did that, it would generate them about $4,000 a month.”

The council took no action on the matter.