ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) Carter County and Elizabethton officials will meet together for the first time to discuss the 501(c)(3) status of the area’s joint animal shelter.
Carter County Commissioners voted in February to make the shelter a non-profit agency. Shelter leaders fear they cannot not handle the financial burden this would bring on.
The change means the shelter will transition from a government-funded agency into a non-profit organization with community and government support.
Following the county’s vote, the shelter was given 16 months to make changes.
“We are not objecting to a 501(c)(3), we think that in time it could help. But there are a lot of things that need to be worked out before it is even considered,” said Shannon Posada, shelter director.
With this transition on the horizon, Posada says she wants to know how much money local government will provide and how much the shelter needs to raise to stay open.
“Even if the donations decrease we need to know there is still funding there, that these guys (the animals) are gonna be taken care of,” Posada said.
The county wants the shelter to become a nonprofit in a little over a year.
“I think it does need to be reconsidered, especially during a pandemic time. These animals, their lives matter and I think they need to be just as big a part of any budget process for any city, any county,” said Posada.
In the joint meeting Monday night, Elizabethton City Council member Wes Frazier says it will be the first time the city of Elizabethton will have its voice heard in this debate.
“They did not discuss it with the animal shelter board, they did not discuss it with city council. We still have not discussed it,” said Frazier.
Frazier also sits on the board for the animal shelter and wants the nonprofit status to be reconsidered with all parties involved.
“The city should have some kind of say-so. Let’s look at this a couple years down the road, in 16 months we can’t do it,” said Frazier.
Other things to be discussed in Monday’s meeting include what happens to the shelter staff, who will take over the new nonprofit, and how soon can a board be formed?
Posada says these answers and more need to come from both county and city leaders.
“We are Carter County as a whole. We don’t need to be divided, we need to work together and come up with a solution.”
Monday’s meeting will take place via zoom for the Elizabethton City Council, County Commission, and shelter board of directors.