Terry Lowe was as good as his word.

The 5th District representative on Cumberland County Commission said in early December he opposed making animal control a branch of the sheriff’s office midyear. His was the only dissenting vote on a Dec. 20 budget amendment transferring $72,498 to the sheriff’s budget to pay for the position.

“We’ve been working toward this transfer of power for years, and I’m glad it’s ready to be implemented,” said Commissioner Rebecca Stone, 3rd District, before the Commission vote was taken. “It makes sense for animal control to be handled by a trained sheriff’s deputy.”

Animal control duties have historically been handled through the county mayor’s office. Moving its supervision and direction to the sheriff’s office would give the county a law-enforcement officer with the legal ability to conduct criminal investigations and make arrests in animal cruelty and endangered cases.

The transfer of operations took place Jan. 1. 

The county earmarked funds for the changeover during its 2021 budget process last summer. The money has been in the unassigned fund balance, with the budget amendment making distributions to pay for an additional certified deputy to serve in the position for the remaining six months of the county’s fiscal year. 

Redistributed monies include $17,186 for salary, $3,725 for in-service training, $1,315 for Social Security, $946 for state retirement, $4,362 for health insurance, $18 for life insurance, $164 for dental insurance, $21 for unemployment insurance, $539 for uniforms, $864 for Workers Compensation, $6,358 for law-enforcement equipment and $37,000 for motor vehicles.

“This is going to give the county 100% better service,” Sheriff Casey Cox said during the Dec. 7 budget committee meeting. “ I don’t know how we’ve not had more issues when they respond to those calls. One thing we realize in law enforcement is, property lines and animals is where people get hurt.”

The new deputy will oversee existing personnel and be able to investigate domestic and livestock animal cases. 

Lowe said during the budget committee meeting he agreed the change needed to be made. His problem, he said, was with the timing. 

“We’ve got a budget process for that,” he added.

During the Dec. 20 session, commissioners also authorized the county in joining the state and other governments as participants in the Tennessee State-Subdivision Opioid Abatement Agreement and approving related settlement agreements.

“We will get some money,” County Attorney Philip Burnett said. “It probably will not be a great deal of money.”

The county is still involved in three lawsuits pending against pharmaceutical companies filed under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act to fight back against the proliferation of opioid addictions and deaths.

County Mayor Allen Foster informed the Commission about an appointment to South Cumberland Utility District. Dr. James Barnawell was reappointed to a four-year term that ends Dec. 31, 2025.

Names presented and approved for notaries public at large were Olana Jo. Burgess, Lisa E. Cannon, Sarah Cannon, Allison M. Deck, Jennifer Delaney, Amanda Hayes, Don Hunter, Holly A. Lee, Tammy R. Miller, Charlotte Ricketts, Brian D. Strickland, Brian Whitehurst, Nina Whitehurst, Josh Wightman and Carolyn Zawadzski.

Trending Video