Cumberland Times-News

June 7, 2013

Foundation to take over shelter operations

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners gave preliminary approval to an agreement that will make a fundamental change in the county animal shelter and animal control operations — taking those operations out of county hands.

The agreement still awaits signatures of commissioners and leaders of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation while an addendum to the agreement dealing with the lease of shelter facilities is finalized.

“This has been a work in progress for a number of years,” said Dick DeVore, the county’s director of the Department of Emergency Services.

DeVore said it is an example of how citizens can get involved and take a government service to a new level. “It’s been a strong, positive partnership,” DeVore said.

New foundation president, Becky McClarran, praised the county for being open to changes at the shelter.

“We have big plans ... we hope to see a new shelter in the next couple of years,” McClarran said.

The county will be proud of how the foundation runs shelter operations, she said.

The agreement will take effect July 1, and will shift control of shelter and animal control operations from the county to the foundation.

The initial agreement is for a five-year term.

The foundation will largely have control over selection of employees, although current employees will be considered for jobs.

There are currently two full-time animal control officers, the full-time shelter manager, Karl Brubaker, and six part-time contractual employees.

There are also some workers provided by other agencies and many volunteers, DeVore said.

“It’s important to note that both current full-time and part-time employes will be given consideration for future employment,” said County Administrator David Eberly.

Foundation leaders Thursday said they anticipate that most of the current employees will remain at the shelter and as control officers.

There are some limitations on the foundation’s authority to select employees.

Initially, the county must concur with the employment of a shelter manager.

After the initial manager is hired, the county will not have a veto, but must be consulted on the employment of a shelter manager, according to the language of the agreement.

All other employees will be employed at the discretion of the foundation and will not be considered county employees.

Dave Williams of the foundation said negotiating the agreement, “was a very complex process” that passed muster through three attorneys.

“We’re not going to disappoint you,” Williams said.

For the first five-year term of the agreement, the county will provide funding for shelter and control operations to the foundation in the amount of $324,000 per year, increasing to $360,000 per year once the new shelter contemplated by the foundation goes into use.

According to county budget documents, the budget in fiscal 2013 for shelter and animal control operations was $306,024.

However, it was unclear if supplemental funding allocations were made.

The local nonprofit foundation has stepped forward during the Allegany County Animal Shelter’s philosophical move away from euthanasia and has a capital campaign under way to construct an 11,000-square-foot adoption and care facility near the site of the current animal shelter.

When complete, the complex would be capable of housing approximately 103 dogs and 120 cats indoors in modern, multipurpose facilities designed to aid the adoption process and improve working conditions for volunteers and staff.   

Prior to November 2010, the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation was primarily an advocacy organization that conducted adoption events, organized feline neuter clinics, and purchased vaccinations and flea and tick control for shelter animals.

The organization was founded in 2000.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.