ELIZABETHTON — One of the most divisive controversies in the year in Carter County and Elizabethton appears to be on its way to a solution.
A dispute that was largely over the city and county shares of funding of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter has led to discussions on the Elizabethton City Council and the Carter County Commission and on the board of directors of the animal shelter. One of the key parts of a resolution was to rewrite the joint operating agreement between the city and county on the operation of the shelter and the bylaws of the organization.
After several months of discussions, a proposed new joint agreement has been drafted, and on Monday, it received unanimous approval from the Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission. It will now be sent to the County Commission next week for approval. It will also require approval by the Elizabethton City Council.
Carter County Attorney Josh Hardin discussed the draft agreement during Monday’s committee meeting and said “it is definitely an improvement over the last one. It is not perfect.” Hardin said one of the keys is that this agreement has a time limit of two years. He said if the commissioners find problems with the agreement, it can be changed in two years.
The agreement sets the funding of the shelter at 40% for the city and 60% for the county. The agreement also said the city and county officials “agree that it is in the best interests of the city and county to explore outside sources of revenue for the animal shelter so that the tax burden of the shelter operation on the citizens can be reduced in the future.”
The proposed bylaws of the animal shelter board of directors also was approved unanimously by the Budget Committee. The draft bylaws specify that the board of directors should consist of five members, with two being Carter County Commissioners and two being Elizabethton City Councilmen. There should also be one member-at-large appointed to the board.
In other matters, the committee selected Austin Jaynes to serve another term as chairman. Aaron Frazier was elected vice chairman.
The committee voted to recommend a renewal of the Everbridge Alert Systems contract, which provides citizens with electronic alerts to a wide range of emergencies. Billy Harrell, director of the Emergency Management Agency, said the cost of the system will increase by $700 next year, but the contract locks in that cost for three years.
Mayor Patty Woodby discussed a plan to renovate the finance offices on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse. The plan would cost about $312,000. The plan was referred to the Building and Grounds Committee for approval.