KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Petworks Kingsport Animal Shelter is facing budget uncertainty, with a month until Tennessee’s towns and counties are required to adopt a final budget for the 2023-24 year.

Earlier this month, the Sullivan County Commission’s budget subcommittee voted against including $75,000 requested by the shelter in its draft spending plan.

The shelter’s Executive Director told News Channel 11 that the shelter’s request, which matches its current funding from the county, represents 10% of the organization’s total budget.

“That’s a huge 10%,” Watts said. “$75,000 goes a long way when you’re paying vet bills and vaccinations and things like that.”

The budget committee is still working to finalize their spending plan for the year and the full commission is required to vote before the committee’s decisions become final.

Watts said she has plans to present before the full commission sometime next month, and she’s hopeful the commission might reconsider the budget committee’s decision.

“Obviously I have no idea what their budget constraints are and what’s going on and Sullivan County, but I hope that we can all work together to take care of all these animals,” said Watts.

Commissioners on the budget committee are divided on the funding request as well.

Commissioner Joyce Neal Crosswhite initially voted against county funding for Petworks, in part because she hadn’t received a full accounting of how the organization had spent the money they received as part of the 2022-23 budget.

“I’m waiting on them to clarify how the $75,000 was spent,” said Crosswhite.

Commissioner Gary Stidham told News Channel 11 he plans to call for a vote on Petwork’s request before the full commission if the budget committee declines to include the money in its spending plan.

“It is the least we could do to help them out,” said Stidham.

Funding closer to home?

Even if the commission votes against providing Petworks with the money, shelter leaders may not have to look far to fill the gap in their budget.

Kingsport City Manager Chris McCartt said the city often gives the shelter additional funding later in the fiscal year.

“It has been very normal for us in that relationship with Petworks,” said McCartt.

Kingsport typically provides about half of the shelter’s total $764,000 budget, but the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s budget vote next month won’t be its last opportunity to fund Petworks.

“As fundraising efforts or other funding options play out over the course of the fiscal year, we’ll revisit that budget typically probably in the February timeframe,” McCartt told News Channel 11. “Historically we’ve ended up adding dollars.”

While elected officials deliberate and finalize their budgets, Watts said Petworks is dealing with a high volume of animals, much like other area shelters.

“We stay at capacity,” said Watts. “It’s as soon as we get them out the door, more come in the door.”