Commissioners discuss animal shelter operations
A new washing machine, Facebook posts and a newly formed advisory committee recently led to a heated discussion over differences in opinion regarding the Carbon County Animal Shelter’s operations.
On Thursday, the commissioners voiced their opinions over several items at the shelter, which houses upward of 15 dogs at a time.
Commissioner Rocky Ahner announced that the shelter’s new washer was purchased and plans on air infiltration systems are moving forward.
He also thanked students from Carbon Career and Technical Institute and the Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club for their recent donations.
Commissioner Chris Lukasevich said that he felt the type and size washing machine that was purchased is not a good solution and will cost the county money in the long run. He preferred a larger commercial machine.
He said a post on Facebook, said the commissioners failed to act on the purchase of the machine for the shelter for over 90 days, which wasn’t the case.
Lukasevich said a recommendation of an immediate action on a washer due to the other one being broken was nowhere in the shelter advisory committee.
“There was no request for an immediate need for a washer or dryer,” he said, adding that the committee heard the former machines couldn’t handle the heavy blankets and wasn’t rinsing them well or draining properly. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.”
Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne Nothstein said that while he understands Lukasevich’s point, there was an immediate need. This one is at least a temporary solution and said that if the board wants to begin the process to get plans together to bid out a bigger washer and dryer unit at the shelter, he would support it.
He added that if the county would have gone with the long-term solution right away, it could have delayed the shelter getting a washer and dryer for months.
Lukasevich said that he heard there had been multiple offers from the public to donate a new washer and dryer to the shelter and those offers weren’t accepted.
Nothstein said he had heard nothing about any such offers.
Ahner said the new washer has a five-year warranty.
He then questioned the role of the advisory committee, because based on the draft of the bylaws, it sounds like control of the shelter was being given to the committee.
“We have to resolve what this advisory committee is going to be,” Ahner said. “It looks to me like it’s going to be a nonprofit (based on the bylaws). Why are we going in this direction?”
He questioned the bylaws and pointed out that it costs approximately $178,000 a year for shelter operations before donations.
He said he was not in favor of this, citing multiple reasons due to current operations. Lukasevich said that the bylaws were created by a board member who is part of a nonprofit so that is probably why they sound that way.
He also said that he feels the shelter is “significantly underfunded” and said the director should give the county a realistic budget to run the shelter.
Lukasevich added that while the county is thankful for the donations that the shelter receives, it’s not supposed to be how government works.
Ahner, who keeps track of the donations that come in for the shelter, said that the shelter never solicits for donations and it is because people believe in the cause to help the dogs.
“I’m just going to keep working toward making this the best shelter it can be,” Ahner said. “I got to make it safe and good for our county.”
Lukasevich invited any resident who is interested in the shelter to attend the next shelter advisory committee meeting at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month, beginning in August, at the 44 Susquehanna St. building. There is no meeting in July.
The shelter is also looking for volunteers to serve as dog walkers. Call the shelter at 570-325-4828.