County moves toward interim animal shelter solution
The Dukes County Commissioners have agreed to act as the lead agency in a coordinated stop-gap effort to provide animal shelter services on Martha's Vineyard after the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) leaves Martha's Vineyard on May 1.
Working with volunteers, animal control officers, and town officials, the county plans to keep the Katherine M. Foote Memorial Animal Shelter in Edgartown open, but the exact framework has yet to be determined. Last week, MSPCA president Carter Luke said his organization would donate use of the building and equipment at no cost to the county.
File photo by Ralph Stewart
At a meeting of the All Island Selectmen Monday of last week Mr. Luke said the shelter has run substantial deficits for several years. Two days later, at their regular Wednesday meeting, county commissioners voted to establish a new fund for donations and provide administrative services as an interim solution.
Prior to the vote, commission chairman Leonard Jason Jr. cautioned that the county does not have the funds to operate an animal shelter, but the commission is willing to provide a structure for continuing shelter services while local towns work on funding for a regional solution. "Right now, we've got to put our finger in the dike," said Mr. Jason. "This isn't going to be easy."
The commissioners discussed taking money from the county's reserve account to temporarily fund salary and operating expenses for the animal shelter. The commissioners said they do not now have money in their budget to fund, even temporarily, shelter operating expenses.
The county's reserve fund currently has a balance of $117,000. The commissioners said any transfer would need to be accompanied by an agreement under which the Martha's Vineyard towns would reimburse the county.
The 2010 fiscal year draft county budget is $1.8 million. The total assessment for the six Island towns is $777,916.
Any transfer would require the approval of the county advisory board, the commission's financial oversight authority, made up of one selectman from each town.
Long-time supporters of county government have often pointed to the regional opportunities the county framework provides. In a telephone conversation following the meeting, the county's paid manager said the need for an Island dog shelter is just such an opportunity.