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Public management likely for new shelter
Private firms may help with services
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Forsyth County News

The new Forsyth County Animal Shelter likely will be managed by public employees rather than a private entity.

The animal control and shelter committee on Wednesday discussed options for operating the new facility, which is under construction and expected to open in February.

The five members plan to recommend public management of the shelter instead of hiring a private group, which would then require county oversight.

Member Lance White said a public or partnership model seems to have had success in other counties.

He added that when Forsyth sought proposals from managing firms in 2009, just two groups responded. Neither of them wants to take on the task now.

A recommendation to the county commission likely will be made at the group’s next meeting June 12.

The committee is still considering what services, if any, to contract out for possible cost savings.

Commissioner Todd Levent said veterinary services would be an ideal situation on which to work with a private entity.

The facility itself could be run by county employees in conjunction with volunteers and inmate labor, Levent said.

“That could be half your staff right there,” he said of the latter two, “and you’ve got them for free.”

Sheriff Duane Piper said the office likely could provide low-risk sentenced inmates to work for free at the future shelter.

Certain inmates currently help with maintenance at sheriff’s office facilities, Piper said.

The group also discussed the relationship with animal control, which will be housed in the county shelter.

Piper said he plans to keep animal control within his agency, especially in light of new classification laws that will make it most efficient to have all officers certified like deputies.

As the group considered a job description for the future shelter director or manager, Piper noted that an animal control background wouldn’t be necessary, since the officers would handle that aspect and work with that person.

The committee emphasized a focus on community outreach and management skills for the future director.

The job description will be revisited at the June 12 meeting, so the county can begin the hiring process a few months in advance of the shelter’s debut.

“We need to make sure they’re ready to hit the ground running when this thing opens up,” Levent said. “Everything needs to be in place before those doors open.”