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Commissioner offended at Humane Society president's warning

April 14, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson said Tuesday he didn't like the Humane Society's board president and called her rude after she said the organization might have to cut back on services to make up for a budget shortfall.

Dana Moylan, president of the Humane Society of Washington County's board of directors, and Paul Miller, its executive director, went before the County Commissioners on Tuesday seeking about $783,000.

Of that amount, they asked that about $362,000 be paid toward the current fiscal year's budget, in addition to the $510,620 the commissioners already gave the Humane Society for this fiscal year.

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The remaining $421,000 would be in addition to the $769,746 the county has proposed giving the Humane Society for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Moylan and Miller said the increases were needed to offset rising costs and for sheltering more animals.

Moylan also said the county shortchanged the Humane Society by approximately $1 million for animal control costs over the last three years. The Humane Society is under contract by the county to provide animal control services, Moylan said.

Without the money, Moylan said the Humane Society might have to operate without enough staff and turn away animals.

Munson proposed that the Humane Society not receive the money for the current fiscal year and that the commissioners discuss the request for the coming fiscal year at a later date. He said the Humane Society expenses were "getting out of control."

"We need to be funded," Moylan said.

She said she didn't think the commissioners would be happy with the Humane Society's cost-saving measures to make up for the shortfall.

When he tried to interrupt Moylan's comments, Munson was told by commissioners President Gregory I. Snook to allow Moylan to finish her statement.

"I don't like her. She's being rude. She's trying to threaten us," Munson told Snook.

Snook said Moylan was not being rude.

"I'm not trying to threaten anybody," Moylan said.

Miller and Moylan said the number of animals being picked up by the Humane Society or being dropped off there have increased. Much of that increase is a result of the county's animal control efforts, and the costs of enforcement should be paid by the county, Moylan said.

The Humane Society classifies the animals admitted to its shelter as "county animals" and "Humane Society" animals.

There were 6,583 county animals, many of which are brought in by animal control officers, at the shelter in fiscal year 2003, Moylan said. There were 1,221 Humane Society animals - those brought to the shelter by citizens - during that time.

It is anticipated that the number of county animals will increase to 7,785 this fiscal year, compared to 1,431 Humane Society animals.

To help save money, Snook said he thought the Humane Society should stop taking in animals from outside the county.

The Humane Society has a policy not to deny any animal, Miller said.

Snook said the commissioners want to work with the Humane Society and need time to consider the request.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he wasn't "knocking" the efforts of the Humane Society, but he couldn't justify giving it the requested increase.

"This to me is a matter of priorities," Kercheval said. "It's just that simple."

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