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New, flat fee proposed at animal shelter for rescue groups

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Animal rescue groups would be charged a new, flat fee for adoptions under a proposal scheduled for consideration during Monday’s Rowan County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The proposal would set $35 as the fee for registered rescue groups. To become eligible for the reduced fee, animal rescues would need to have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and sign a contract with the Rowan County Animal Shelter, according to the proposal.

Currently, the Animal Shelter exempts registered rescues from voucher fees because approved groups are required to spay or neuter all adopted animals. The Rowan County Animal Shelter’s website states that approved rescue groups pay a $15 adoption fee. For others, the Animal Shelter’s adoption fee is $80, which includes a $70 spay or neuter voucher.

County commissioners on Monday are scheduled to discuss and potentially approve the new, $35 fee during their 6 p.m. meeting, which will be held on the second floor of the county administration building — 130 West Innes St. in Salisbury.

In recent history, local rescue groups and animal advocacy organizations have been the driving force behind noticeable reductions in the number of animals euthanized at the Rowan County Animal Shelter, according to statistics provided by the shelter.

In a memo about the fee change, Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass said rescue groups are “very important” to the shelter’s success. The new, $35 fee would allow the animal shelter to recoup spay and neuter costs, which will soon be done in-house, Pendergrass wrote.

“We feel that there is no greater tool for a reduction of Rowan’s unwanted pet population than spay/neuter and no greater single tool for placing our animals than working with the rescues,” Pendergrass wrote.

The $35 fee was recommended by Animal Shelter Veterinarian Mari Maristany, Pendergrass wrote.

In other business on Monday’s agenda:

• Rowan County commissioners will receive a copy of the proposed 2017-2018 budget and pick dates for a work session and public hearing.

• County commissioners are scheduled to go into closed session to discuss matters pertaining to its prayer lawsuit — Lund vs. Rowan County — which awaits an opinion from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In March, all 15 judges for the 4th Circuit Court heard oral arguments in the case — known as a rehearing en banc. The court has not yet issued its opinion.

Since oral arguments, attorneys for both sides have submitted documents to the court notifying judges of a similar case in 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the related case, commissioners for a county in Michigan are being sued for saying prayers at the start of monthly meetings.

• County commissioners are scheduled to consider creating a capital projects ordinance, which will allow the county to receive and spend money for construction of a water line in the Dukeville area.

The water line, once built, will serve more than 170 residences in the area dealing with concerns about water quality and coal ash. County commissioners also hope to lure an economic development project into the area.

The total cost of the water line is projected to be $5.8 million, Monday’s agenda documents state. Of that total, $5.31 million would be reimbursed by Duke Energy, as required by state law. The remaining $500,000 would be paid for by Rowan County.

The Rowan County portion represents an increase in the diameter of the largest portion of the water line from 6 inches to 12 inches.

• As part of the consent agenda, commissioners are scheduled to approve two agreements with the City of Salisbury.

One agreement will allow Rowan County to purchase water from the City of Salisbury for the Dukeville water line. The second will hire Salisbury-Rowan Utilities to operate the Dukeville water line. Rowan County would pay Salisbury-Rowan Utilities $4,500 per month as a basic fee for operating costs.

• As part of its consent agenda, Rowan County commissioners are scheduled to approve the rezoning of a one-acre parcel of land to allow for a recycling center and solid waste site.

The parcel of land is located next to an existing recycling site on Julian Road.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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