After weeks of protesting and controversy over the Hawkins County Humane Society’s denied ARPA funding request, Budget Committee Chairman Jason Roach is hoping he’s come up with a viable compromise.
Roach submitted a resolution for the County Commission to consider this month which would match the HCHS up to $250,000 for all of the Humane Society’s monetary fundraising.
The HCHS originally requested $800,000 in ARPA funding to build a new facility, and later reduced its request to $400,000 for that new facility.
Both requests were rejected by the commission’s Budget Committee, resulting in protests and picketing prior to the last month’s Budget Committee and County Commission meetings.
In his new proposed resolution, Roach acknowledged that the Humane Society’s facility is overcrowded which limits the HCHS in its ability to serve the citizens and animals of Hawkins County through its rescue efforts.
But, Roach’s resolution doesn’t specify that the matching funds raised by the Humane Society have to be used for a new facility. Only the ARPA funds allocated by the county would have to be used for the facility expansion.
The resolution states that the county will used ARPA funds “...to match any funds raised from the time of the passage of this resolution up to 45 days before the federally mandated ARPA deadline for expenditures of funds.”
Roach had initially considered submitting this resolution earlier this year, and later stated he’d scrapped the idea due to objections expressed by the Humane Society.
In light of recent protests and criticisms levied toward the commission, however, Roach said he reached out to HCHS director Sandy Behnke and others with the Humane Society to discuss his fund matching idea again.
As it turned out, there was a bit of a misunderstanding with regards to what Roach intended versus what the HCHS interpreted regarding his original $250,000 match proposal.
“One of the concerns they had was, would they have to raise money that would be dedicated for capital projects, or could they match all fundraising money,” Roach said. “They thought that I meant they would have to raise $250,000 in excess of what they already raise, to match for ARPA funds. I went to clarified with them that as far as I’m concerned, whatever money you raise we’ll use that for matching funds. I don’t feel comfortable as the county government telling them how to spend money that they raise independently.”
Roach added, “Once I clarified that, they were like, oh we actually like that plan. They told me if they had known that (was Roach’s intent before), they would have been happy with that.”
Although use of the matching funds raised by the HCHS would be at Humane Society’s discretion, any ARPA funds allocated to the HCHS would be earmarked specifically for the animal shelter facility upgrade and/or expansion.
The Budget Committee will consider Roach’s resolution at its March 20 meeting, and Roach’s resolution is on the agenda for the March 27 regular monthly commission meeting.
Last year Hawkins County received $11.03 million in ARPA funds.
Heading into its March 27 meeting the commission has committed $8,642,500 of its ARPA funding, leaving $2,387,500 in available ARPA funds for the County Commission still to award.