By Xavier Smith
The Wilson County Animal Control Committee will continue its discussion regarding the eliminated $2 domestic animal tax after an hour-long discussion Thursday raised more questions than were answered.
Committee chairman Wendell Marlowe said the discussion deserved more time and attention than an hour and said future work sessions and meetings would need to take place before a proper decision could be made.
The Wilson County Commission passed a resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Joy Bishop, last month with the intent to discuss the tax collection, which ceased in 2013.
Marlowe said feedback he’s received on the issue did not favor re-instating the $2 domestic animal tax, which went toward New Leash on Life, which was then the county’s de facto animal control agency until the county started its own animal control department in 2003.
New Leash On Life now operates as a non-profit organization.
Marlowe said the primary question he received was if the organization still met the minimum requirements set forth in the resolution that authorized the collection.
Wilson County Mayor Mike Jennings said he was not prepared to answer the question Thursday night and would need to receive more information about New Leash on Life’s procedures and policies before he could give his opinion.
Commissioner Chad Barnard said although the collection seemed like a good idea in former years, he believed a lot has changed since collection started, including the county forming its own animal control department.
He also pointed to problems regulating collections, which were done collected through the cost of pet vaccinations. The group pointed to the possible and realistic loopholes veterinarians could use in order to avoid paying the tax.
Commissioner Jerry McFarland’s motion to designate $40,000 annually to New Leash for spay and neuter procedures failed during the meeting, although the group agreed the service is needed in the county.
Angela Chapman, New Leash director, said the organization performed 1,034 spay and neuter procedures last year.
Bishop’s last attempt to reinstate the tax ended in 2015 after it did not get approval from the Animal Control Committee after the full commission voted to send it back through committee.
That push to have the commission revisit the issue came on the heels of the release of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s opinion on the issue.
Slatery’s opinion stated the Wilson County Commission had the right in 2013 to stop a $2 domestic annual fee originally approved by voters in 1980.