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Humane society updates commissioners on finances

Washington County commissioners were updated on the financial situation of a local animal shelter during their regular meeting Thursday morning.

Jim Raney, board secretary with the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, said the board has been meeting with the Marietta Community Foundation about getting money to help the shelter’s accounts.

Raney said the money would help even out their cash flow as some months are up and some are down. He said the shelter has about $43,000 in arrears, with a majority due to veterinary bills. The money would first be used to pay those vet bills and the rest would be invested.

“We are putting together a special committee that will look into a building and maintenance fund and into a long-term facility for the humane society to serve the whole county better,” he said. “It might even include a satellite facility down in Belpre to serve that end of the county.”

The building and maintenance fund would help the over-crowding at the small facility.

“We need a bigger facility,” Raney said. “One option we’ve kicked around is building a pole building adjacent to the current building which could have space for a veterinarian to work on the animals.”

The new building could possibly be used to house the cats, while their current building could be rehabilitated and just be used to house the dogs.

Raney added that they haven’t discussed the options in depth as they didn’t have the funding request in hand. Eventually, if the fund is set up, public donations could be solicited for it to create a new facility, he noted.

The humane society originally received $40,000 in funding from the commission, but an extra $18,000 was granted to help pay the vet bills.

Commissioner David White said he has received public complaints about the shelter, but he’s also heard from veterinarians who have not been paid in the past.

“They are still not getting paid to the extent that we need to pay them,” Raney said.

Commissioner Kevin Ritter said one of the complaints he has heard is that there are vouchers for free spays or neuters given out, at the same time the HSOV is not able to pay vet bills.

Raney said the shelter has been paying bills sporadically just to keep afloat. In the basic contract the shelter has with the county, $15,000 is set aside for community dogs. Money for the vouchers is taken from that fund.

Raney and the board have requested more funding from the county. In response, Ritter gave him a copy of a letter that will be sent to the humane society’s board of directors.

The HSOV can not fully use the $18,000 in contract funding for veterinary services, as they are not able to schedule a vet every month, said Raney.

“Before we can make a decision, we really need to see a detailed budget. We haven’t seen that, in my understanding, in some time,” said Ritter.

In other commission news, a project cost estimate for a sewer collection system that will serve the new customers in Devola was discussed.

Commission President Ron Feathers said the proposal was to possibly get a loan or grants for the project. If funding is available, it would go out for competitive bid.

“This will take place sometime in April, but we have to have this paperwork in. It’s time sensitive and must be in before February,” he explained. “This is the paperwork to start seriously discussing what is available to us.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

Dates to remember:

• Courthouse closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

•Monthly finance committee meeting, 10 a.m. Tuesday, conference room A.

•Regular commission meeting, 9 a.m. Thursday, 1115 Gilman Ave.

Source: Washington County Commission Clerk.

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