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Boyle officials disagree on county involvement in dead animal crisis

Boyle County magistrates and Judge-Executive Howard Hunt butted heads Tuesday morning over the issue of dead animal removal.

Magistrates expressed strong displeasure with the fact the county has accepted a vehicle that was used for dead animal removal into its fleet, and that a location in the area of Perryville was being considered as a location for dumping and composting the dead animals. They also said they didn’t want to see Boyle County spending money on dead animal removal, when that responsibility belongs to the Boyle County Conservation District.

Judge-Executive Hunt said he had been working with the Conservation District to find a solution for dead animals, after the company that used to provide the removal service went out of business at the end of January. He said it’s an emergency situation “because there’s dead animals piling up around the county.”

The county agreed to accept the defunct company’s vehicle into its fleet, which Treasurer Mary Conley said cost around $715 for liability-only insurance. That $715 could be reimbursed back to the county by the Conservation District, she said.

The vehicle is not being used yet.

Hunt said the plan he had been working on involved Boyle County hiring a driver for the vehicle and the Conservation District reimbursing the county for all of that person’s salary. There would be zero net cost to Boyle County and dead animal removal services would be maintained for farmers, he said.

Magistrate Phil Sammons said he doesn’t think the problem is Boyle County government’s responsibility. The Conservation District “really wanted to be on their own and do their thing” when the county approved making it a special taxing district, he said.

“I don’t think our taxpayers need to spend a penny, because they’ve got the money, they agreed to this and by golly, they need to stick with it,” Sammons said.

Magistrate John Caywood said he’s concerned the fiscal court assisting the Conservation District “could open the door for other taxing districts if we’re not careful.”

Magistrate Tom Ellis said he has heard concerns about the potential location for dumping and composting the dead animals near Perryville. He also noted that there are methods farmers can use on their own land to properly dispose of a dead animal within six weeks.

“I think a lot more education in the community needs to take place before we take anything on that is the Conservation District’s responsibility,” he said.

Hunt said the location in Perryville was discussed tentatively on Friday, and nothing is decided. He said he was trying to help address an emergency situation in Boyle County when he began working with the Conservation District on possible solutions. He said if magistrates were unhappy with the work he had done, he would stop working on it and let magistrates “take over” instead.

“I was approaching it from a position of expediency to make available a concept of service … but apparently that’s not acceptable, so I would like for y’all to take over,” Hunt said. “I’m being very serious when I say that.”

Sammons and Ellis said they don’t feel it’s the fiscal court’s responsibility because the Conservation District receives tax money for the stated purpose of providing dead animal removal services.

Sammons said the Conservation District gets around $160,000 a year in property taxes, but dead animal removal was only costing around $60,000 annually. He asked where the rest of the money was going.

Hunt said the Conservation District runs a farm-equipment rental service for Boyle County farmers who can’t afford to purchase big pieces of farm equipment outright.

Hunt said the Conservation District is “broke” and if it loses its taxing ability, the cost would fall back on Boyle County, anyway.

Magistrate Jason Cullen asked whether other magistrates could get on-board with approving the hiring of a driver for the truck at the Conservation District’s expense — if the driver would be transporting dead animals only to out-of-county locations. The more controversial issue of a possible in-county disposal site could be decided later, he suggested.

But other magistrates didn’t want to approve anything until they had a better understanding of the situation and a face-to-face meeting with officials from the Conservation District.

The fiscal court agreed to hold a special called meeting 10 a.m. next Tuesday, March 3, during the county Solid Waste Committee meeting, to meet with the entire Conservation District board and figure out what to do next.

 

IF YOU GO

The Boyle County Solid Waste Committee will meet at the Boyle County Courthouse at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 3. The meeting will also serve as a special meeting for the Boyle County Fiscal Court to meet with members of the Boyle County Conservation District board to discuss the current issues with dead animal removal.