Intergovernmental agreement targets animal control.

  • Toccoa and Stephens County aim to work together to increase professionalism in animal control.
    Toccoa and Stephens County aim to work together to increase professionalism in animal control.

    The city and county governments are working toward an intergovernmental agreement to hire an animal control officer.
    The matter was to be discussed by both governments in meetings earlier this week but was set aside to allow the city attorney time to review the agreement.
    "We want to get an officer that is post certified," said Toccoa vice mayor Evan Hellenga in a telephone interview.
    Hellenga said that the plan was to have the animal control officer hired by the county and be under the county marshal's office.
    "We pulled it (Monday) due to some minor details that the city attorney had not had the chance to look at in the intergovernmental agreement," Hellenga said.
    Hellenga said the city would assist with subsidizing the position.
    "There's really no major issue (with the agreement)," Hellenga said. "I don't see any stumbling blocks."
    In October, county commissioners discussed animal control issues that included a lag in response times due to the officer residing in Habersham County, carrying a personal firearm without enforcement certification, inabilities to issue citations, and having to use their personal vehicle to respond.
    The county tabled the matter Tuesday until the city reviews the drafted intergovernmental agreement, said county chairman Dennis Bell.
    "The city's wanting to look at a few issues," Bell said. "We're working together on this and we're working very closely on it."
    City commissioner Jeanette Jamieson, who serves on the humane shelter board, said that a primary component of the agreement is removing the animal control officer position out from under the animal shelter.
    Jamieson the animal control officer is "working for a group (animal shelter) that has limited resources as far as training and things of that nature."
    Jamieson said the county has the capacity to pay for training and that the city will reimburse the county based on the number of responses in city limits.
    "I'm really pleased with the approach," Jamieson said.
    However, Bell said that it was still in discussion whether the animal control officer would be under the county or city governments.
    Hellenga said the overall goal is to make the position of animal control in the county and city more professional.
    Bell estimated that an agreement may be approved in December regarding the animal control officer.