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Commissioner Bell proposes outsourcing county positions
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The commission also heard from Animal Control about the details of its upcoming fundraiser, PetFest.

“It’s going to be our biggest fundraiser of the year and hopefully an annual thing,” said Animal Control Director Mike Ledford.

The weekend event, which will be Sept. 25 and 26, will feature the Dixie Dock Dogs dog diving competition, live music, including Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, a pet costume contest and a pet adoption area with animals from the shelter.

Dock diving is a sport where dogs jump into water and compete for the highest, longest or fastest jump.

“They’re on ESPN a lot,” Ledford said. “This would be their national event that they’re doing at our facility.”

Ledford said the goal of the event is to not only raise money for the animal shelter’s programming needs but to increase awareness of the shelter and encourage responsible pet ownership.

“We should draw at least 2,000 people over the weekend,” said Public Information Officer Nikki Young. “We want to get out their and promote adoptions so we can raise our adoption rate.”

Commissioner Ashley Bell asked the Board of Commissioners to consider outsourcing a number of county positions to save money at Thursday’s board meeting.

Bell, who recently attended a conference of the National Association of Counties, said many counties have started using the private sector in place of construction-related county offices such as planning and zoning and building inspections.

“We’re paying people more today than when there was a boom and the county commission was having three and four hour meetings to go over the many zoning requests on the agenda,” Bell said, pointing out there were no zoning items on Thursday’s agenda. “That’s a sign of the times.”

He said a pay-as-you-go system where the county would put work out for bid could be beneficial.

“It would save us so much money if we could just pay for what we needed right now instead of having the same level of staff commitment when the economy was booming,” Bell said.

“I don’t agree with the premise that government can do it cheaper than the private sector.”

He said he realized it may be an unpopular move, but it could prevent a tax increase in the future if the economy does not improve.

“It’s an issue of government perpetuating government. Nobody wants to lay off their people and nobody wants to do anything that will put their own job in jeopardy,” Bell said. “As commissioners we were elected to look out for the taxpayers and protect the taxpayers. It’s not an easy decision that we have before us.”

The commission agreed to discuss the matter at its Aug. 9 work session.