CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)— The question of who is going to pay for stray dogs and cats in Charleston County still hangs in the balance.
The Charleston Animal Society receives funding each year from Charleston County for the county contract to handle stray animals.
This year, Charleston County approved $2.1 million dollars in funding for the Charleston Animal Society for fiscal year 2020. However, the Charleston Animal Society says that this is not enough to cover the cost of animals surrendered to them by animal control officers. They say that they need an additional $1.1 million— a total of $3.2 million for fiscal year 2020.
Since, Charleston County has not awarded the Charleston Animal Society the total funding they’ve requested, the society is asking municipalities to foot the bill. They have requested money from City of North Charleston, City of Charleston, and Town of Mount Pleasant.
According to records obtained from Charleston County, the three municipalities were asked to pay the following sums:
- City of North Charleston: 1,410 animals = $556,950
- City of Charleston: 1,300 animals = $513,000
- Town of Mount Pleasant: 194 animals = $76,630
Those records also showed that the funding provided from Charleston County to the Charleston Animal Society has been on a steady uptick for the past 5 years, including a $300,000 increase for fiscal year 2020 from the previous year.
- FY 2016 $1,271,264
- FY 2017 $1,350,000
- FY 2018 $1,500,000
- FY 2019 $1,809,557
- FY 2020 $2,100,000
Information obtained from Charleston County also indicates that according to the last three years of tax returns, the Charleston Animal Society reports cash flow (EBITDA) in excess of 1 million dollars each year after expenses.
The municipalities have said they share some concerns when it comes to picking up the tab.
Mayor Keith Summey sent a letter to the Charleston Animal Society on behalf of the City of North Charleston that reads in part:
“Our 2020 budget had already made it through our process and was adapted in early June, 2019. We did not include a half of million dollars in it for the Animal Society, and I will not recommend additional dollars to City Council at this time.”
The City of Charleston issued a statement:
“The city shares the concerns of other area municipalities and looks forward to having further discussions with our regional partners and Charleston Animal Society” – Jack O’Toole, City of Charleston Spokesperson
In response, the Charleston Animal Society said, in a statement reading in part:
“Discussions regarding contracts for stray animals with Charleston Animal Society and the cities of Charleston, North Charleston and Mt. Pleasant are ongoing. We are optimistic that the issues involved will be worked out to the benefit of our community animals.” – Joe Elmore, Charleston Animal Society President and CEO