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Chairman Rob Boyette's Letter to the Editor Re: Animal Shelter

Post Date:02/01/2019 11:26 PM

Letter to the Editor from Chairman Rob Boyette (Wilson Times:2/2/19)

Dear Editor:

It is a pleasure and honor to serve on the Wilson County Board of Commissioners. Our Board is dedicated to serving the citizens of Wilson County.

Part of our commitment is to make tough decisions and to always do our job professionally and with integrity.

Our managers, department heads, and commissioners regularly talk with citizens and answer questions on many topics.

Recent reports regarding our county’s animal care and enforcement have spurred conversations that may be inaccurate or misleading.

As part of the conversation, I want to remind citizens of key points that were made before and need to be restated.

All animal fees go into the General Fund. This is not a surprise nor is there anything wrong with this.

The General Fund is where all county revenues are deposited. North Carolina counties follow this standard practice. Money is spent after it is budgeted and/or approved for a specific service, in this instance, animal care and enforcement.

Anticipated animal fees are used as a target for budget planning purposes. Any animal fees collected above the budgeted amount are included in the general funds spent on animal enforcement.

Wilson County spends additional general funds above the animal fees received. In fact, the additional general fund money spent on animal enforcement is significantly greater than the total amount of collected animal fees. Thus, all citizens, not just pet owners, share in the cost of animal enforcement.

To be clear, no other county services have been subsidized with animal service fees.

It was suggested the county provides sewer services with these fees. Wilson County has never offered sewer services.

Opinions and conversations continue regarding whether past and current funding should have gone specifically to building a new shelter.

In 2008, Commissioners approved a new ordinance placing animal enforcement within the Sheriff’s Department. In my opinion, both Commissioners and the Sheriff were hopeful that in time a new shelter could be built. However, a serious downturn in the economy resulted in county budgets being reduced and capital improvements being delayed, public schools included.

At the same time, the Sheriff requested and received a substantial increase in the budget to develop and improve animal enforcement. Commissioners wanted the new Animal Enforcement agency to succeed in its new department and felt additional funding was needed to accomplish that. As a result, all animal fees were placed in the enforcement budget.

In recent years we have been setting aside money to begin the process of building a new shelter.

It was stated there has been a lack of public engagement. Quite the opposite is true. The public is engaged in expressing feedback to commissioners and our county management. We have at least one public meeting per month, but citizens talk with commissioners and our dedicated staff daily and weekly.

We, as county commissioners, conduct ourselves and the county’s business to the highest ethical and professional standards. The County has been recognized for its financial management. This board’s financial practices do not condone immoral actions as was suggested.

In 2019 we look forward to working on plans for a new animal shelter and the future EMS South Station. We will do so with high regard to quality, fiscal responsibility and with the professional governance you elected us to do.

If you have a question on how your county government works, call us.

All our audits and budgets are online. Our contact information is available at wilson-co.com.

As we stated before, all of us can agree that we want the best care for our animals, control of the pet population, enforcement of our animal ordinances and a quality shelter.

Wilson County Government managers and commissioners will continue to be open, to be accessible and to always listen.

Sincerely,

Rob Boyette
Chairman, Wilson County Board of Commissioners

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