County advisory board approves transfer for animal shelter startup
The Dukes County manager outlined the expected financial costs associated with operating a town-supported, community-based animal shelter at a meeting of the county advisory board (CAB) Friday.
County manager Russell Smith estimates that in its first year the shelter would generate revenues of $70,000 and have expenses of approximately $95,000. The county proposes that the towns pick up the deficit of approximately $25,000.
The county is prepared to cover the initial costs of operating the facility, after the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) leaves Martha's Vineyard on May 1.
Included in the county presentation was a request that the selectmen members of the CAB press their respective town boards to commit to reimburse the county.
The CAB, including one selectman from each town, is responsible for financial oversight of the county. The county has agreed to dip into its reserve fund for the money needed to operate the animal shelter for an initial six-month period.
A meeting of the county commissioners preceded the meeting of the county advisory board. On Thursday, Mr. Smith told the commissioners that people "had been coming out of the woodwork to help."
Mr. Smith reviewed his estimates for operating the animal shelter. He said with any luck it could break even but for now the goal was to keep the doors open and provide a needed service to the community.
On Friday, the CAB approved a slate of budget transfers intended to offset reductions in anticipated revenue and the use of reserve fund monies for the animal shelter.
In a budget worksheet presented at the meeting, Mr. Smith proposed that the towns share the costs based on population. That would leave the down-Island towns paying a larger share of the costs and the up-Island towns paying less. For example, Edgartown would pay $6,251 compared with Chilmark's $1,520.
The county operating budget is built in part on individual town assessments, which are based on real estate valuation. In the next fiscal year, Edgartown taxpayers will pay the largest share, $284,139, followed by Chilmark ($133,632), Oak Bluffs ($128,615), Tisbury ($125,878), West Tisbury ($117,669), Aquinnah ($27,364) and Gosnold ($11,402).
The 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.
Working with volunteers, animal control officers, and town officials, the county plans to keep the Katherine M. Foote Memorial Animal Shelter in Edgartown open. The MSPCA has agreed to donate use of the building and equipment at no cost to the county.