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Compromise over critters appears close
Deal would buy time for county
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County commissioners are trying to buy some time to keep housing critters picked up by the sheriff’s animal control unit.

The corporation that runs animal control facilities for the county recently told the county of its plans to end a $400,000 per year agreement on July 31.

Since that notification, the county attorney has negotiated alternatives with the corporation that could extend the agreement beyond that date at additional cost to the county.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the owners of the NALAA organization are “generally at a place where they would like to move on with respect to providing the service.”

“But in the interest of helping the county make plans for the handoff, we have gone to them and asked are there any options,” Jarrard said.

Payment to the corporation, whose title comes from the first letters of the owners’ names, goes for maintenance and operation of the facility.

Owned by NALAA president Lanier Orr, the facility is at Orr Animal Hospital on Old Atlanta Road. It houses more than 200 animals, including dogs, cats, chickens and goats.

In a May 11 letter to the county, NALAA did not offer specific reasons for the termination. It stated only that the corporation wished to end the contract “for a number of reasons which would have little constructive value to recite.”

According to the contract, either the county or the corporation can terminate the agreement with 60 days notice.

In a commission work session Tuesday, the board directed Jarrard to move forward with a new lease that would extend NALAA’s services to Dec. 31, at $1,667 more per month.

The motion to draft the contract passed by a 5-0 vote. Approval of the contract could come at a later meeting.

The county may also extend the agreement into 2010, though rates would further increase by $8,000 over the current fee.

A 60-day “escape hatch” will be built into the lease, Jarrard said.

“Any deal we make will be terminable by either party upon 60 days notice,” he said. “No matter how many deals we cut ... either party can get out. Any action we take is something we can undo.”

The 60-day notice gives the county an opportunity to seek other options.

In the meantime, county staff are looking into the cost of building and running a facility.

County Manager Doug Derrer recommended the board move forward with a contract that “would at least get us through 2009.”

Derrer said a similar-sized and staffed facility in neighboring Hall County ran about $319,000 for staff salaries and benefits.

The cost of building the kennel is another concern.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said building and staffing a new facility is something “to look toward.”