Jefferson County Commission

Humane Society Can Continue Operation After JeffCo Commission Extends Contract

Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight (Photo by: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The Jefferson County Commission on Tuesday made sure the Greater Birmingham Humane Society can continue to house animals the next three years, avoiding having to move – or even euthanize – them.

Following their committee meeting, commissioners reconvened their Jan. 20 commission meeting to extend the county’s contract with GBHS.

“I don’t know where the slowdown came,” Commissioner Joe Knight said, “but it was some back-and-forth stuff up in the personnel board. But we got it out and we got her done. Had it expired, they would have had to move the animals.”

The humane society would not have been able to house animals without its contract with the county. That contract allows GBHS to get the insurance it needs.

“Their insurance expires on Wednesday,” Knight said. “They have to have contracts in place before their insurance company will renew their insurance.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said animals could have to be euphonized if the contract were not extended. More likely, the animals would have had to be moved.

“With the amount of animals we’ve had – with COVID and people surrendering them and stuff like that,” Knight said, “that would have been a formidable task for them to try to move all those animals to another location and then had to move them back.”

Ultimately, Knight said, it is the commission’s job to provide the pound.

“(GBHS) would have had to bear the expense to move them, but we would have certainly pitched in to help,” he said.

COVID Absences

County Manager Cal Markert told commissioners during their committee meeting that COVID-19 has left the county’s workforce shorthanded.

“There are a lot of people out with COVID,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve been really sick, but they still can’t be at work. I can say that’s been going around for the last couple of weeks.”

Contractors working for the county have been affected as well.

“If you’re lined up ready to pour concrete and you’ve got a crew on the ground, for example, and they have a COVID issue at the concrete plant, that messes up that whole day,” Markert said. “Just having the whole chain of workflow not interrupted has been difficult in the last two or three weeks, to several months actually.”

The county manager also cited COVID’s effect on the bottom line of several projects.

“Construction costs have gone up 20% to 30%, as well as the time it takes to get stuff done is taking longer for the same reasons,” he said. “When one … truck driver is out, it can affect the whole day or the whole week sometimes. It’s been very difficult.”

In another COVID discussion, Stephens displayed a home COVID test kit he received. He suggested that the county acquire some to test employees who don’t feel well.

Markert liked the idea.

“We currently have a program where we can get tests and take them to the Health Department,” the county manager said. “This will be even more convenient. We’re going to sit down with the team and figure out how many (test kits) we need to order so we can have some here and do just that. I’m looking forward to that.”