CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Commission has reaffirmed the stance it took on animal pickup services back in December 2013, when it voted 11-3 in support of animal sheltering with a provision for pickup when requested by emergency responders.
That decision ended a series of agreements with Cleveland Animal Control, which provided both animal sheltering and pickup up services for county residents living outside of the city up until March 2014. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County, a private organization, has provided animal sheltering services for the county since that time.
On Monday evening, Bradley County commissioners shot down not one, but two proposals that would have added animal pickup to the list of animal welfare services now available to county residents. The proposals, nearly six months in the making, were presented by Commissioner Thomas Crye, who has headed an ad hoc committee tasked with exploring animal pickup alternatives for the county.
The first option called for using the SPCA to provide animal pickup for $110,000 per year. The second animal pickup option called for contracting with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office for $120,000 annually, plus $81,000 in startup costs.
It came down to a matter of affordability for some commissioners.
"We need a shelter, but I don't see how we can afford pickup," Commissioner Terry Caywood said. "I think people need to bring their own animals in and then we'll accommodate them as we have with the SPCA."
Commissioners never actually voted on either proposal, but instead voted on substitute measures made by Commissioner Dan Rawls, who called for not funding animal pickup in both cases.
Commissioners voted 8-4 in support of not funding animal pickup instead of voting for or against SPCA pickup, and 9-3 in support of not funding animal pickup instead of voting for or against animal pickup through the sheriff's office.
Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford and commissioners Milan Blake, Caywood, Crye, Mark Hall, Mike Hughes and Charlotte Peak voted in favor of Rawls' proposal in the first vote, while Bradley County Commission Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber and commissioners Johnny Mull, Howard Thompson and Robert Rominger cast ''no'' votes. Except for Rominger, who switched to a "yes" vote, the second round of voting remained the same. Commissioners Bobby Goins and Bill Winters were absent.
Crye and Rawls both cited concern with funding capital education projects as reasons for not allocating money for animal pickup.
"I am not for spending one penny of the taxpayers' money for animals when we can't recognize and spend money on children's education to correct the older schools that are functionally not current with maintenance and design," Crye said.
Thompson expressed a desire to table both animal pickup options for further study, citing a need "to get the figures in line" before voting on either item.
An effort by Thompson to remove both animal pickup items from the meeting agenda failed in a 6-6 vote.
Yarber attempted to have the sheriff's office pickup proposal tabled before Rawls made his second substitute call for not funding animal pickup. However, Yarber's measure died for lack of a second motion and it did not go up for a vote.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.