By Alyssa Schnugg
When the new Oxford Animal Resource Center opens, it will only be taking in animals from the city after a proposal from the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to pay 17 percent of the shelter’s expenses was declined Tuesday by the Oxford Board of Aldermen.
However, the Aldermen and Mayor Robyn Tannehill expressed hope that will change in the near future.
During the regular Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, Tannehill said she and Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson recently met with two supervisors and other county representatives to discuss what a partnership in the new Animal Resource Center would look like between the two governments.
The animal shelter, formerly managed by Mississippi Critterz, was closed earlier this year after an investigation into complaints about the shelter being overcrowded and accusations of neglect.
The city has estimated the annual budget for the animal resource center to be about $869,000. After backing out expenses for animal control services — since there are no leash laws in the county — and modifications to the building and equipment — the city asked the county to split the estimated $682,000 annual costs to run the center, which would be about $28,500 a month from the county.
The county sent back a proposal to pay $9,994 a month, which is what the county was paying Mississippi Critterz for managing the shelter.
The county said it would also allow the use of a van for transports. The proposal was for six months and then the county would meet again with the city to “discuss expenses, the progress of the shelter and a future agreement.”
Alderman Janice Antonow said she didn’t think the proposal was enough money.
“There has always been more county animals coming into the shelter than from the city,” she said. “I don’t think it’s enough money to take care of all the animals.”
Antonow said she hopes the Board of Supervisors will re-evaluate their proposal after a few months.
“If the county looks at it and decides to contribute the full amount at any point, we should allow them to join so we can start taking in county animals,” Antonow said.
Alderman John Morgan agreed with Antonow and pointed out that without the shelter taking in county animals, the project budget should be less than anticipated.
Tannehill said the budget was prepared by looking at other resource centers and past expenses of the Oxford shelter.
“We have a lot of trust to rebuild,” she said. “And I think the county will see that and want to become partners.”
The Board voted to name the shelter the Oxford Animal Resource Center.
Tannehill announced that Nicole Young has been hired as the director of the center.
Young served as the head of customer care specialist for the Memphis Animal Center for three years and prior to her time there, she worked as lead nurse at an emergency veterinarian clinic where she provided vet tech assistance.
“When we first met Nicole, we knew we had found the director we’ve been searching for,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “We believe she will be a great asset.”
Young will begin her position at the center on May 17.
Tannehill said renovations to the shelter building have begun.
“We’d also love to hear from people who want to volunteer,” she said.
With the name being officially voted on, Tannehill said the city will begin creating a website and a Facebook page.