011020-du-shelter1

The Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter has dropped the Geary County from its name as the county pulled out of the shelter on Jan. 1.

According to Geary County Commissioner Brad Scholz, the county made the decision to stop funding its portion of the animal shelter in late spring of last year.

“We weren’t utilizing it as much or even close to as much as what the city was,” he said. “The way it was set up originally put a lot of liability on the county. For instance, in the bylaws it said that even though (the shelter manager is) a county employee, that the board determines the hiring, firing of the director if something was to happen. So as an example, let’s say, that the director did something that violated — or did something that was on the lines of a discriminatory action — and the county says (the director) needs to be terminated because of that, but the board member says no.”

Animal shelter board members include people from the Junction City Commission, the Junction City Police Department and other agencies who Scholz said he believed might not understand what the liability was for the county.

“It cleaned up a big mess is what it cleaned up,” Scholz said of pulling out of any involvement with the shelter.

Scholz said nothing like this had happened since he came onto the county commission about a year ago.

“If it was, that would be — who knows what the lawsuit would be like?” he said.

Scholz compared it to when the city pulled out of the Geary County Health Department.

City Manager Allen Dinkel said he disagreed with Scholz’s assessment of the matter.

He said he does not believe the situation is comparable to that of the health department.

“Why the city was ever in the health department, I have no idea,” Dinkel said. “That’s not a city function. And you’ve got to realize all people that live in Junction City live in Geary County and I think they forget that at times. All citizens of Junction City area citizens of Geary County.”

According to Dinkel, 71 percent of the county’s tax base is in Junction City, which he said means a significant portion of the county’s funds come from activity in Junction City.

“They forget that a lot of times,” he said.

According to Dinkel, the county had promised about $50,000 in support of the animal shelter this year, an offer which it later rescinded.

“They claim that I didn’t accept it then,” he said. “But they never came back with another offer.”

However, Dinkel said, the shelter and the city will be fine.

It won’t be the first time the city ran the shelter by itself. According to Dinkel, about 20 years ago, the city had sole ownership over the shelter.

“We’ll move forward,” he said.

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