Budget issues threaten New River Humane Society, commissioners work towards solution

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FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — All lost or surrendered dogs and cats from Fayette County find shelter at the New River Humane Society.

Employees at the shelter are responsible for fundraising money for their basic needs such as animal food, vet bills, and more, but for years the Fayette County Commission paid their payroll, according to shelter board president, Kathy Gerencer.

“We’ve been contracted with the commission of the county for a number of decades and in exchange for that, they have provided us payroll reimbursement so that we can pay our employees,” Gerencer said.

But during a commission meeting on Friday, Board President Kathy Gerencer learned the commission only planned to pay for 35 percent of their payroll. Commissioner Tom Louisos said the shelter’s budget usually comes from coal severance, and that revenue is down.

“The budget for the humane society where it was budgeted for, it’s dropped 10 percent, the revenue dropped 10 percent,” Louisos said.

Louisos said he suggested programs, such as utilizing people from the day report center to do community service at the shelter to reduce the number of paid employees, but Gerencer said they tried that before.

“They’re not there for the right reason,” Gerencer said.

Gerencer said if the commission does not fund their payroll budget, they will be forced to lay off all of their employees and give up their control of the shelter. She said that would be devastating to the community.

“We see the tremendous need for us to be there. Otherwise these animals, who knows,” Gerencer said.

Louisos said he wants to work together to find a solution for everyone, but they are prepared to take over the shelter if it comes down to that.

“If we have to, we are prepared. We are not going to let the animals suffer,” Louisos said.

Commissioners will host a public forum on Zoom on April 7, 2021 at 10 a.m. to find solutions to this budget issue. They invite anyone from the community to join them and help.

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