HERMITAGE – Shenango Valley Animal Control Board has adopted a blueprint for a fundamental change in the way it and the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter operate.
Now, it’s up to representatives of individual municipalities to say what they think.
The board on Thursday recommended that it change from a governmental entity to a nonprofit organization, hire a full-time manager, raise the municipal assessments to cover the cost of the manager, and look at existing buildings as a possible shelter instead of just thinking about building new.
Elected officials in Hermitage, Sharon, Farrell, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wheatland will have to approve the nonprofit status and assessments in order for them to come to fruition.
“I think this is pretty exciting,” said board Chairman Duane J. Piccirilli, a Hermitage commissioner. “I think we’ve got a lot of stuff going on, and very positive.”
Representatives of animal advocacy groups who attended the meeting agreed. Richard H. “Boomer” Pearsall II, executive director of Mercer County Humane Society, called the hiring of a full-time manager “absolutely needed.”
“It’s been long overdue and they’re moving in the right direction,” said Deb Shaulis of Pet Solutions.
Betti Lang, a board member of Tails of Hope, said, “We at Tails of Hope are so extremely excited for everything that is going on at the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter.”
Tails of Hope operates a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Hermitage and has provided those services – as well as rabies shots – to shelter animals.
“We’re happy to see the future, we’re happy to be a part of it … anything we can do to keep their costs down and to keep this going forward,” Lang said.
The recommendations were crafted by the city managers of Hermitage, Farrell, Sharon and Sharpsville and the mayors of Wheatland and West Middlesex.
“These recommendations lay out a proposed plan to improve both the operations and the facility and ultimately improve the conditions for the animals that are under the control and care of the SVAS,” said Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson, who presented the recommendations to the board.
The municipal administrators have hammered out a proposed job description for the manager and agreed their budgets could handle pronounced assessment increases to cover $37,900 in salary and benefits for that manager, Hinkson said. These assessments would increase:
• Hermitage: from $21,136 to $35,777, leapfrogging Sharon in paying the highest assessment due to Hermitage’s status as the most populous municipality in Mercer County, as of the 2010 Census.
• Sharon: from $21,367 to $33,918.
• Farrell: from $7,912 to $13,223.
• Sharpsville: from $5,890 to $9,770.
• West Middlesex: from $1,213 to $2,086.
• Wheatland: from $982 to $1,626.