In a 2-1 vote Tuesday the Kent County Commissioners waived $130,000 in water and sewer allocation fees for the Humane Society of Kent County — to ease the cost of construction of their new $5.2 million facility.
Kent Humane Society Executive Director Richard Keaveney said they’ve raised $3.8 million so far for construction and that they are actively trying to raise an additional $1 million for “operational costs.”
“So I am asking for the county to make our burden lighter,” Keaveney said.
He said without the COVID-19 pandemic he would have asked the county for about $250,000 towards their capital campaign, but instead he’s seeking a waiver of the water and sewer allocation.
In his “no” vote, Commissioner President Tom Mason voiced concern that waiving the fee would open the door for more waiver requests from nonprofits, but Commissioner Bob Jacob responded that the Humane Society was not just another nonprofit but an organization that provides services to the county.
The organization provides animal control services to the county, which the county pays for in annual contributions approaching $300,000.
“Our relationship with the humane society is much different than the relationship with other nonprofits,” he said. “Someone needs to explain to me how we have to pay the allocation fees to ourselves, isn’t that the same as waiving” the fee?
Commissioner Ron Fithian said the county legally has to provide for animal control and a “humane society of some type.”
“We are committed to doing that whether we have our own department or we look to them as doing the job for us, which is why we have contributed over the years,” he said. “So I’m not worried about the next [nonprofit] coming along because they’re not [providing] a function for us.”
Fithian also said the Humane Society will likely pay about $40,000 annually in water and sewer fees. At that rate the county will recoup the allocation fees in three years, he said.