Commissioners authorized advertising for the county’s animal shelter director position at a slightly higher pay grade, but held off on approving the use of contracted services equal to hiring one full-time person to address what the county manager called a crucial need.
County manager Ed Causey brought both requests to the Sampson County Board of Commissioners earlier this week, asking the board to authorize both the addition of contracted services equivalent to one full-time employee, as well as advertising the position of shelter director at a higher starting salary.
The shelter is currently operating with three full-time positions, including the director’s position, and two part-time positions.
The county manager said that, with the increasing volume of animals and visitors, both adopters and rescue organizations, the staffing level is “inadequate” as the county tries to improve its shelter operations and grow its outreach efforts, including goals to improve spay and neuter, vaccination/rabies awareness and volunteer training programs and obtain proper Drug Enforcement Administration licenses.
“There are very few things that are viewed or observed by the public or inspectors more so than the animal shelter,” said Causey, who noted that he spent several hours one Friday morning at the facility. “It was pretty apparent that it takes a significant amount of help to get things in shape on a daily basis, without counting all the other things that go along with that. What we have found out, with all the animal adoptions, is we really need to be able to have somebody to basically do all the office work.”
Additionally, Causey requested to move forward with re-advertising the position of animal shelter director.
Lori Baxter has served as the county’s interim animal shelter director since the end of June. Causey has praised Baxter on a job well done, but conceded there is still much to do at the facility and shared his hope Baxter would seek the full-time job.
Causey has said, upon the board’s authorization, ads will immediately be published.
“We would immediately advertise the position with the goal of having a permanent selection done before Christmas,” said Causey. “I think I’d like to get a permanent director in before we do too much so they can be able to have their say and put their stamp on things.”
The position is currently classified as a Grade 65, however based upon the analysis and recommendation of the MAPS Group, which finance officer David Clack said recently analyzed salaries for similar positions at counties comparable to Sampson’s size in coming to a conclusion as to what the starting salary should be.
Causey requested the position be advertised as Grade 68. According to the Sampson County Personnel Resolution, Grade 65 has a minimum salary of $29,484, while Grade 68 has a minimum of $33,840. Baxter is paid at an annual rate of $31,008.
The board did not take issue with the salary hike included in the position to be advertised, but did not move forward with the hiring of contracted help.
“I would like to make a visit over there before I make a decision on this,” Commissioner Jarvis McLamb said. “It seems like we’re spending way too much money on Animal Control.”
Commissioner Albert Kirby said he had the opportunity to visit the shelter recently and said strides have been made not only from the previous facility at the rear of the County Complex but from the state of the current shelter.
“Without really getting an appreciation for what everybody does and their positions, my impression was that the improvement from the old place was like night and day. I couldn’t believe it,” said Kirby. “I saw incredible improvement. It looked like a place where you could see compassion for the animals. It didn’t seem like a killing place. I don’t know what the positions are and what they do, but just observations — it’s a different place.”
The board authorized advertising the shelter director position at a higher pay grade, but held off on the hiring of contracted help. Board chairman Billy Lockamy expressed interest, along with McLamb, in visiting the shelter prior to making a decision.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.