ELKINS -- Randolph County officials have reached a tentative agreement with the county's Humane Society to continue housing stray animals at the group's shelter at a cost of $15,000 per year.
The agreement, reached after Monday's commission meeting, is contingent upon Elkins City Council members voting to partially fund the county dog warden position, said Randolph County Commissioner Ira Coberly.
"They (Humane Society) will accept seven dogs per day and have agreed to eventually enlarge the facility and cooperate with us," Coberly said. "Now we're negotiating with the city about the dog warden. In the past, we have let the dog warden go into the city for emergencies but the law says we don't have to if they don't contribute to the position."
Coberly said commissioners have asked the city to kick in $9,000 per year, roughly what they used to pay to the Humane Society for housing the city's strays.
"They paid that until a couple of years ago when I guess the service got so bad they didn't want to pay for it anymore," he said.
Council members initially were expected to vote on the funding matter at Thursday evening's meeting. Coberly said Elkins Mayor Jimmy Hammond told him council wanted to wait until more council members had a chance to look over the contract. A vote is expected at the July 20 meeting.
Hammond was in meetings Thursday and unavailable for comment.
If approved, the city's contribution would be about a third of the dog warden's total salary and benefits package, Coberly said.
After months of negotiating with the Humane Society, earlier this summer commissioners announced their intention to build their own animal shelter in Elkins. After several more meetings, commissioners were apparently able to hammer out a deal with the group.
Both city and county leaders had complained about the low number of animals the shelter was willing to take in. Coberly said the cost and the increased number of animals proved to be the best deal for both groups.
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446