PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners agreed Thursday to "contribute" $8,923.75 to cover an invoice from the Humane Society of Parkersburg for one month of services provided within city limits.
"We are waiting for a final legal decision as to who owes what between the city and the county, so we'll all in limbo right now, and that doesn't help the humane society, they have bills to pay. They have payroll to cover. We are putting them in a real bind, unfairly; we need a resolution. The humane society shouldn't have to suffer because of this issue between the city and the county," Commissioner Wayne Dunn said during a meeting Thursday with humane society officials.
"We have bills, payroll, vaccinations, food for the animals, utilities, we're getting to the point that we aren't going to be able to pay them which means we would have to determine what we need to cut. When we met in June, at the request of the county, we kept providing services to the city. The understanding was we would bill the county for those services," said Maryann Hollis, executive director with the humane society.
Photos by Pamela Brust
Maryann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, met with Wood County commissioners Thursday to talk about an unpaid invoice billing the county for services provided within the city limits of Parkersburg.
"We need to see a better breakdown on the invoice. The city is collecting a dog tax to provide services, but they are not forwarding the revenue from that tax to the service provider. The attorney general has addressed this in the past, but is not willing to address it again at this time. We need to look at the services you provided to determine which ones should be paid by the city, although the city contends they shouldn't pay for any services, versus the services that would not be billable to the city," commission President Blair Couch said.
"The previous attorney general's opinions state if a city has ordinances and collects the tax, they need to provide services. The city of Parkersburg says we are collecting the tax, but we aren't giving you anything," Couch said.
Couch said the county is willing to pay something, but didn't want to set a precedence by paying the invoice.
- Wood County was billed nearly $9,000 for services provided in July by the humane society.
- The services billed were provided to residents within the city limits of Parkersburg.
- The county agreed to cover in-city statutory animal control services after the city did not renew its contract with the humane society, until legal questions about who is responsible were settled.
- Commissioners decided Thursday to "contribute" funding for the bill. County officials then plan to bill the city once a breakdown of services is provided by the humane society.
"We need to see the costs broken down so we can see what is on there the city doesn't need to pay for, I think we want to go ahead and bill the city for all, part or some based on a more itemized breakdown," Couch told Hollis.
"The bill is based on the current contract with the county for the unincorporated areas, which we understood would cover the city limits. That figure is based on what was proposed to the city minus $4,000 in good faith, hoping the number of running-at-large calls would go down because we are not picking up licensed dogs anymore within city limits," Hollis said. The bill lists a total of 26 calls within city limits in July.
Hollis agreed to work up a more itemized breakdown of the costs for the county.
Hollis said the shelter is still accepting strays from Parkersburg residents, which is not required by code.
In the meantime, the commissioners voted unanimously to "contribute" the amount of the unpaid invoice to the humane society. Later, if the county is reimbursed by the city, that amount would be credited, Couch noted.
"Once we have your costs and services broken out, we can see the actual costs and if we have to go to the city of Parkersburg to pay what their share is, we will have that broken out," Couch said.
The county contract with the humane society is for services for the rural areas for $132,000. That contract expires June 30, 2011. After Parkersburg's contract for services expired July 1 and the city announced it would no longer contract with the humane society for animal control services, the county agreed to cover the city and have the humane society bill for the additional expenses. The city maintained it is the county's responsibility to provide the services. The attorney general's opinions issued in the 1950s and 1960s say if a city has an additional dog tax, and its own ordinances, than the city must accept the enforcement that goes along with it.