The Burke County Animal Services Center is hosting holiday events throughout December. It also is asking folks to foster an animal over Christmas. 

Burke County commissioners are expected to decide next week on whether to create three new animal control positions after Sheriff Steve Whisenant earlier told officials he wants out of animal control.

A decision on the positions is expected to come the same day County Manager Bryan Steen unveils his recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The county animal shelter operation moved out from under Whisenant’s supervision in August. It is now under Steen’s supervision. But then in January, Whisenant told county officials he also wanted out of animal enforcement, which remained under his supervision.

Steen told commissioners during their pre-agenda meeting last week that Whisenant has, on multiple occasions, gone on and on and on about wanting out of animal control.

Steen said the three new positions would cost the county less than the four sworn officer positions that are currently assigned to do animal control. Whether Whisenant will be able to keep any of those four positions in the sheriff’s office is not known at this point. Steen said he is evaluating that and will present his recommended budget Tuesday.

Commissioner Chair Johnnie Carswell said Whisenant has been quite adamant about wanting out of enforcement of animal control. As county commissioners, they have had more complaints about Whisenant’s animal control officers and he feels like the county will get fewer complaints with new animal control staff.

Carswell addressed the current animal control staff during the pre-agenda meeting, saying Whisenant has six or seven vacant positions at the sheriff’s office. He said if Whisenant wants to move those officers into those vacant positions, more power to him, because they are sworn officers.

“The time is here for us to take charge of this animal shelter, which we already have now, it looks like it’s time to take our animal control, which this sheriff is not going to do because he said he doesn’t want it,” Carswell said during the meeting.

Vice Chair Scott Mulwee said if the county is going to get complaints about animal control he at least wants the ability to do something about the complaints and how it’s run on a day to day basis. The positions, if created, will be under the supervision of the county manager.

Rhonda Lee, director of human resources for the county, said the salary range for the Animal Services Enforcement Supervisor position is between a minimum of $38,970 and a maximum of $60,403.

The salary range for the Animal Services Enforcement Officer positions is between a minimum of $33,661 and a maximum of $52,188, Lee said.

The positions would be one Animal Services enforcement supervisor and two Animal Services enforcement officers, according to information from the county.

The Animal Services enforcement supervisor position requirements include a high school diploma and at least four years experience in the animal services field, including one year of supervisory experience; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

The position also requires the person be certified to give rabies vaccinations, and be certified in euthanasia. In addition, the position requires completing of courses related of basic animal control functions or an equivalent combination of education and experience, according to county information.

The requirements for the two Animal Services enforcement officers positions include a high school diploma and at least one year experience in the animal services field or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Other requirements include certification as a rabies vaccinator, or become certified within six months of employment, and certification in euthanasia, or become certified within six months of employment. In addition, the positions require completing courses in basic animal control functions, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, according to the county.

If commissioners approve creating the positions, the positions will be in the budget for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Commissioners will hold budget meetings before having a public hearing and adopting a budget. The public hearing is expected to be held on June 16.

Because of precautions due to COVID-19, commissioners have been holding meetings electronically. Videos of the meetings are posted to the county’s YouTube channel at Burke County NC.

For electronic meeting credentials (Zoom), contact Kay Draughn, clerk to the board of commissioners, at 828-764-9354 or by email at kay.draughn@burkenc.org by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Residents wanting to submit written comments for the informal public comments portion of the meeting can email Draughn or fax her at 828-764-9352, hand deliver to Burke County Governmental Offices, 200 Avery Ave., 2nd floor, Morganton, or send by US mail to Burke County Governmental Offices, Attn: Kay Draughn, P.O. Box 219, Morganton, NC 28680.

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