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Squad, SPCA to lobby for funding
At Henry County budget hearing tonight
Monday, April 16, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Representatives of at least two organizations plan to attend tonight’s public hearing on the proposed county budget in hopes of convincing county officials to give them more money.
The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room of the Henry County Administration Building.
Officials with both the Fieldale-Collinsville Rescue Squad and the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA said they will make a case for more funding than is proposed for them in the fiscal 2013 budget.
The squad anticipated it would receive the $95,000 that generally is allocated to one squad each year. The F-C squad planned to use the money to help buy an ambulance and a minimal extrication response unit/crash truck, according to Clinton McCloskey, EMS chief with the F-C squad.
However, Henry County Administrator Benny Summerlin proposed the squad get $11,000 in fiscal 2013.
That amount, he said, is the difference between a $124,800 grant the squad received from the State Rescue Squad Assistance Fund and $17,500 it received from the local United Way, and the $153,000 the county recently paid for a new ambulance.
McCloskey said the ambulance the squad planned to buy will cost $165,800, with a $23,500 difference between the grants and county funding.
The Henry County Board of Supervisors directed county and squad officials to meet and reach a compromise.
McCloskey said that meeting occurred Tuesday but no compromise was reached.
The budget proposal “stands as submitted,” McCloskey said. “Not a whole lot has changed at this point.”
McCloskey said he has encouraged F-C squad members, as well as those from other squads and fire departments, to attend the public hearing. He plans to make the squad’s case to the supervisors.
“The board of supervisors has the ultimate say” in allocating funds, McCloskey said. While the total $116,201,474 budget proposal cannot be increased, “money that is in there can be reallocated from one line item to another,” he added.
Even if the board cannot fund the squad’s entire request, McCloskey said, “I hope they can find part of it because it will make it a little easier” for the squad to try to raise the rest.
If supervisors do not increase funds to the squad, “it will be a huge setback and a disappointment, but our goal is still the same,” McCloskey said.
“Hopefully, they will see our needs and make things a lot more simplified and fair,” McCloskey said, adding that 2013 would mark the first time a squad had not received the annual allocation.
Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA, said she also will attend the hearing and ask the supervisors to raise the county’s contribution to $75,000 to help pay for an initiative at the county pound that is aimed at reducing euthanasia rates and finding homes for more dogs.
Summerlin proposed level funding of $7,267 for the SPCA, and the reimbursement of up to $10,000 that the county allots the SPCA each year.
Summerlin said that money is to help offset the salary of the SPCA employee who works part-time — 20 hours each week — to keep the pound open extra hours and take photos of animals to try to get them adopted.
Hervey said the SPCA spends a total of $30,000 annually, including taxes, for that full-time SPCA employee.
The SPCA also pays for vaccines and other medical care when a dog is adopted, she said.
The adoption fee — $35 to $75, depending on which option is selected — is paid to the SPCA, she said.
However, the agency spends an average of $250 on each of the 2,500 animals that go through the agency each year, she said.
Hervey said another 2,400 animals are cared for through the agency’s low- to no-cost spay/neuter program.
The SPCA has an annual $650,000 operating budget, she said.
Medical care, drugs and vaccines account for the “lion’s share” of the budget, Hervey said. Salaries are next largest expenses.
If the county does not increase its contribution, Hervey said the SPCA board has a number of options.
“They could discontinue the program at the pound, discontinue taking animals from Henry County ... everything is on the table,” she said.