Since the July 1, 2016, animal shelter takeover, shelter operational transparency has been lacking.
Before the Commission’s shelter takeover, someone called county residents offering a full-time and about six part-time positions at the shelter. Normal county hiring practice requires publishing a position in the newspaper and interviewing for it. Who made the decision to not follow the normal hiring practice and who made these phone calls? Since our tax dollars pay for these positions, we should know.
About 13 months ago, the shelter began destroying animals at the shelter. This hasn’t happened at the shelter for over 20 years. Who made this decision and who is destroying these animals?
Last August, the Commission created a new director position costing the county about $67,500 in salary and benefits. Again, who suggested they give the position to a favored employee and not follow the normal county hiring process? Since our tax dollars pay for this position, we should be able to have an answer to this simple question.
On March 31, 2017, W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey provided a legal opinion regarding who should have access to over $300,000 in 2008 and 2012 excess levy money collected prior to the shelter Commission takeover. Morrisey stated the money should be returned to the taxpayers. Since these are our tax dollars, what is the status of it being returned? I can’t answer that, can you?
At a Commission meeting in July 2016, the county financial officer presented a report indicating the levy account had a balance of $365,175.56 on June 30, 2016. I had the opportunity to ask Patrick Morrisey a couple questions related to what was owed to the taxpayers. The Commission has stated the amount left in the account after paying bills generated prior to their shelter takeover was about $300,000. Since Morrisey’s legal opinion stated the Commission should not have access to the prior levy money, how did they pay bills from this account? The Commission previously paid bills from either the levy account or the County General Expense account. I asked if it was legal for the Commission to access and spend prior levy money after their takeover on July 1. Again, previous practice was to pay shelter bills from either the levy account or the County General Expense account. Why was this $65,000 in bills paid from the levy account? Morrisey stated he was never asked these questions and that our local Circuit Court should answer them. So why did the commission choose to use levy money?
Recently, I filed an FOIA and received shelter operational expense documents. Eight shelter medical bills were redacted. This is not the first time shelter medical bills have been redacted. What kind of medical expense is occurring at the animal shelter that is so sensitive that it meets the legal requirement to be redacted from a public document?
In Hancock County, the commissioners decide what the public is told and what they are not.