Editor’s note: Our Feb. 26 editorial is based on our stories printed in the Dec. 11, 2019 edition and the Feb. 7, 2020 edition and reflects a different narrative and comments made by the commissioners at that time. The piece appeared on the opinion page as an editorial and written by the Editorial Board.

A response to your Feb 26, 2020 editorial: Additional support for animal shelter — Why?

Regarding your February 26, 2020 editorial: I’m afraid the Marshall News Messenger is terribly misinformed, and is in turn misinforming the public. I hope the newspaper will publish a correction soon.

I attended the meeting last year at which the county commissioners approved the $250,000 to help with the construction costs for a new animal shelter, and I spoke with Harrison County Commissioner William Hatfield on February 21 to confirm my memory of the event.

First, some background. There is disagreement over the actual numbers, but no one can seriously dispute that many animals arrive at the shelter from the county. There are no fees for surrendering animals, and the city must accept all of them. Some municipalities do it differently. A fee per animal taken in is common. Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center, for example, charges a minimum of $100 per animal surrendered. It is higher for residents outside of Longview.

The $250,000 approved by the Harrison County Commission was quite specifically linked to the construction of a new facility. It was never presented as a replacement for the annual $39,100 that the county pays as its share of the shelter’s operating costs. That $39,100 is in lieu of a per animal fee, which the city agreed would not be imposed on county residents for at least ten years.

Think about it. Why would the city give up $391,000 in order to get $250,000, and still continue to provide services? Defies all logic, doesn’t it?

That you publish this misinformation one day before city commissioners vote on whether to proceed with the next phase of the shelter is very troubling.

Linda Harber