CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Animal control services have returned to Bradley County residents living outside of Cleveland city limits for six months through a $120,000 agreement with the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
In a special meeting on Tuesday, the Bradley County Commission voted 10-1 to support the agreement.
"The benefit of [the agreement] from my vantage point is that it gives us six full months to put in place whatever plan will be long term," said Commissioner Bill Winters. "It's good for us, I think."
Animal pickup and drop off services have been limited to city residents since July 1 as a result of a failure between the Bradley County Commission and the Cleveland City Council to reach an agreement regarding the county's portion of the animal shelter budget.
On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 to accept an agreement for three months at $75,000 or a discounted six-month agreement for $120,000. An ad hoc committee composed of Bradley County and Cleveland leaders recommended both options as a short-term solution to the lack of animal control outside of the city.
Monthly costs associated with responding to animal pickup calls and handling animals originating outside of the city amounted to $25,000 per month, said City Manager Janice Casteel previously.
"I believe this is a step forward in helping them, to let them know that we want to help resolve the animal problem," said Councilman Dale Hughes, who served as chairman of the ad hoc committee.
The temporary agreement will be funded through the county's $180,000 rabies and animal control budget.
Remaining budget funds could possibly support a new county shelter to be operated by nonprofit or other private organizations.
The Bradley County Mayor's Office has recently requested proposals from interested parties regarding how much public funding they would need to start up and maintain animal rescue and shelter operations, including the possible lease of county-owned facilities.
Commissioner Ed Elkins, who cast the opposing vote, said he had originally planned to vote for either short-term solution involving city animal control services but changed his mind after he had received calls from people who said they did not favor doing anything except committing funds toward a nonprofit animal shelter.
"I think this is a positive step forward," said Rachel Veazey, who organized an online petition demanding action from county and city leaders in regards to the loss of animal control services outside of Cleveland. The petition, listed on change.org, received over 400 signatures from people identifying themselves as Bradley County residents.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.