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Commission has low expectations

To the Editor,

June 30th marked the end of the third year of the Hancock County Commission’s operation of the county animal shelter. The Commission promised to operate the shelter “better” than the previous shelter operator, a nonprofit which had operated the shelter for over 20 years.

Three facts deserve repeating.

First, the nonprofit had agreed to operate the animal shelter at a total expense to the taxpayer of $188,000 for fiscal year 2017.

Second, the nonprofit had achieved a shelter animal death-rate of 5 percent.

Third, believing the nonprofit would continue to operate the shelter, the voters of Hancock County approved an Animal Shelter Excess Levy of $100,000 annually by 72.5 percent in May 2016. By the middle of June, the commissioners changed the lease contract with the nonprofit to effectively force the nonprofit to turn over shelter operation to the commissioners.

County documents received based on a W.Va. Freedom of Information Act request state the following facts regarding animal shelter operation under the leadership of commissioners Joe Barnabei, Jeff Davis and Paul Cowey.

Animal Shelter Financial Operation Under Commission Leadership

Budget/Taxpayer Dollars Spent

FY2017 $302,447/$457,484

FY2018 $524,600/$589,485

FY2019 $538,725/$647,150

≤Budget figures above include $100,000 Excess Levy funds and $120,000 for Dog Warden Service.

Does the above indicate commissioners Joe Barnabei, Jeff Davis and Paul Cowey are wisely spending your taxpayer dollars? Does the above indicate the Shelter Director is competent at managing taxpayer funds? More than once the commissioners have indicated they are happy with the way the shelter is being operated. Are you?

As you write your check to pay your county taxes this year, remember how well your tax dollars are being spent by our commissioners. Low expectations by commissioners Joe Barnabei, Jeff Davis and Paul Cowey have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars at the animal shelter. Yet, the animal death rate has increased over 50 percent.

Finally, over two years ago W.Va. Attorney General Morrisey recommended the commissioners return to the taxpayers over $300,000 in Animal Shelter Excess Levy funds in the levy account when the Commission took over operation of the shelter. He stated based on prior settled legal cases, neither the Commission nor the nonprofit had a legal right to access the money, Thus, he recommended the funds be returned to the taxpayers of Hancock County. Have you received a check yet? The next time you meet Joe Barnabei, Jeff Davis or Paul Cowey ask them when you will receive your check or do they not plan to follow the Attorney General’s recommendation? Why ask for a legal opinion, if you do not plan to follow it?

Rudy Rosnick

Weirton

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