County agrees to another year of animal management funding


A cat greets a visitor in the kennel area at Greenfield-Hancock County Animal Management.

GREENFIELD — Despite considering a search for a private contractor who could provide the services, Hancock County has once again agreed to pay the city of Greenfield for animal management services.

The county’s council and commissioners have signed off on an agreement for 2022 to pay $350,000 in two installments for the services, which include responding to all calls in the county regarding animal welfare, as well as housing and seeking to find homes for stray pets.

Greenfield-Hancock County Animal Management is administered entirely by the city but has traditionally been jointly funded

City attorney Gregg Morelock spoke at the commissioners’ most recent meeting to present the agreement. Commissioners asked Morelock if anyone in city government had spoken to the incorporated towns in Hancock County about paying for a portion of the department’s costs. Morelock said they had not because city officials believe the county was making inquiries about it. The commissioners said they had not and believed it was the city’s role to do so.

With the incorporated towns still not involved in the process, Hancock County will pay the same amount for the services that it did in 2021.

The county commissioners signed off on a request for proposals earlier this year that would have sought a private contractor to provide animal management services in the county, but commissioner Marc Huber said they decided not to send it out and to accept the city’s proposal.

“I’m still not in love with it. I think it’s way too much money for the service we get, but it’s a needed service and that’s what they’re charging for it,” Huber said.

Commissioner Bill Spalding said he was against the idea of finding a private partner to handle animal concerns. He said he wants the city and the county to continue working together on animal management, although he thinks the incorporated towns could do more to pay for the services.

“I think it’s good that we can come to an agreement, but I do think there’s a more equitable way to distribute costs,” Spalding said.

The agreement was also approved by the Greenfield City Council at its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 8. The city’s board of works will be the last body to sign off on it.

None of the money from the county will go toward the construction and maintenance of animal management’s new, 12,900-square foot building slated to open in spring 2022; that is being funded entirely by the city. The county’s portion of funding will help pay for salaries and other expenses in the department’s operating budget. The department’s budget for 2022 is approximately $778,000.

The county has repeatedly tried to decrease the amount it pays toward animal management. In 2019, the commissioners wanted to decrease their share from $383,857 to $195,000 in the 2020 budget year, but ended up committing $375,000. For the 2021 budget year they again signaled they wanted to significantly decrease their share and ended up paying $350,000.