In a surprising announcement during department reports at the Clinton City Council meeting Thursday night, April 11, SNYP Animal Shelter of Clinton head Lori Treat said the shelter was out of money, and soon would not be able to meet its obligations.
“We are broke,” Treat told the council.
Treat explained to the council that she had been putting money into shelter operations from her retirement fund, $27,000 to date.
“We’ve begged, we’ve pleaded, and I’m not going to sacrifice my 401K any more,” Treat said.
The shelter was taken over by SNYP in May 2017 after a decision at the Quorum Court to remove the shelter operations from county control and turn it over to a private, not-for-profit, group. Since then the shelter was taken over by Treat’s group, originally focused on spaying and neutering pets.
The Council heard, just prior to Treat’s report, from Animal Control officer Tim Pike and Treat that the shelter was current full, with 20 dogs penned.
Treat told the council a Charitable Trust had been established, but to date she had received no funds from the trust. City Attorney Chad Brown offered to call the trust administrator on Treat’s behalf.
Brown, in an April 16 interview, said he had spoken with the trust administrator and while there were what he called “substantial assets” in place, those assets, property, needed to be sold before there would be cash accessible to SNYP Animal Shelter.
Treat answered questions from the council, including that the shelter was currently on its second year of a five year contract which included terms, such as the charge for taking in animals, that she would re-negotiation to be more in line with what other shelters charges.
“We currently charge nothing for animals coming in, and I’ve found out most other shelters get $40 per animal. I didn’t know what when I started,” Treat said.
Further conversation between the council and Treat determined that some funding avenues may be open, including proceeds from violation of the animal-at-large ordinance inside the city. City of Clinton Mayor Richard McCormac quickly reviewed some shelter expenses with Treat, including the net loss of $10 for each dog sent for out-of-state adoptions.
“It sounds like you’re at a tipping point,” McCormac said to Treat.
Treat told the council under the current situation, the shelter is likely to close June 1.
The council also heard a report from Media3 representative Benita Hickman regarding cable and internet service in the city.
Hickman told the council that the business’s local phone number, 501-745-4040 remained in effect, but callers might be transferred to the corporate switchboard is she was not available to answer the phone. Problems had come up with service recently, Hickman told the council, during equipment upgrades which were interrupted by an electrical storm, along with equipment which needed manual adjustment after a line on Highway 330 was replaced.
The problem there, Hickman told the council, was Media3’s construction crew was being stretched thing, having to cover several states.
Refunds were available to customers who had done without service, Hickman said, but the customer should request the refund through her office. Those who had the smoothest refund service, she said, were those who kept a log on days and times when their service was down. From there it was relatively easy to compare that against corporate records and issue an account credit.
McCormac said another Town Hall with Media3 head Drew Cannon was planned for the coming month.
In other council matters:
• Police Chief John Willoughby introduced the department’s new K-9 officer “Terri,” which will, once training is completed, but used for drug interdiction and tracking. Regarding drug interdiction, Willoughby said, “They’d better watch out, we’re coming after them full blast.”
• Water Department Manager William Hinchey said the department was currently showing a 44% water loss, with 37% loss at Dennard and 67% at Burnt Ridge. The Burnt Ridge loss was found that someone had opened a large valve on the line and walked away, leaving the water to run. Steps were being taken to be able to protect against this sort of vandalism.
• Hinchey also presented that the bids were in on the remote water meters. The department was also “back underway” on the line to bypass the Pole Yard now that easements have been granted.
• A Parks and Recreation Commission is already in place by City Ordinance, the council was told by Chad Brown. McCormac indicated the importance of the city getting a parks and rec commission in place.