Our View: Sammie’s Friends deserves accolades; now let’s dig into funding
April 27, 2018
As it turns out, Sammie's Friends has no enemies.
Most everybody in Nevada County knew this already, but sometimes it seems we need a reminder about just how much we love our animals.
That reminder hit hard last week when we learned a county panel had recommended some local animals would go to Placer County's Auburn facility for adoption. Nevada County would take over intake and other duties at the McCourtney Road shelter. It appeared Sammie's Friends was in the doghouse.
Then the public got involved and Nevada County backed off with its tail between its legs.
You've got to give local county officials credit. The contract with Sammie's Friends ends June 30. It's the county's job to take a good look at the numbers before entering a new contract.
The recommending panel examined estimated costs, performed interviews and made a recommendation. Then, once the backlash hit, the county took several steps back and said it would continue to work with Sammie's Friends.
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Turns out the bark was worse than the bite.
Sammie's Friends on Wednesday held a rousing town hall meeting. Hundreds of supporters crowded into the Foothills Event Center to hear the news and celebrate what appears to be a victory.
Animal lovers came together and through their collective voices changed the direction of local government. This shows the power regular folks have — a power that's worth celebrating. However, it's important to recognize that this process is nowhere near the finish line.
Once the dust has settled it's entirely possible that Sammie's Friends won't be happy with the result, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Our community has said, unequivocally, that it wants its local animal shelter to stay local. That absolutely must happen. However, cutting a blank check for Sammie's Friends just because there's overwhelming support for it isn't an option.
The request for more money is one reason that got us into this situation. Throwing cash at the animal shelter won't fix this problem, mainly because there's no unlimited pot of money we can tap.
Negotiations are in their infancy for a new contract. Sammie's Friends initially asked for $743,000, with other funding sources providing a total of some $1.14 million.
The county wants the best service for the best price. We shouldn't be surprised if officials offer less cash than Sammie's Friends wants, and asks the public to donate more of its own money.
This community has shown it wants an excellent no-kill shelter that's the envy of this state. Now it needs to pony up more of its own money to make sure that happens.
Our government makes hard decisions every day. We must do the same.
Fire season is fast approaching. We have a need for affordable housing, jobs and high-speed internet.
All of these needs deserve government funds, and there's only so much money to go around.
Going forward, Curt Romander, who along with Cheryl Wicks cofounded Sammie's Friends, told the crowded town hall that they'd be open and honest. We're going to be open as well: Any contract should clearly define how county dollars are spent. Sammie's Friends does amazing work with rehabilitating animals, but that time and those dollars should come from volunteers and community donors. County dollars should focus on core services.
And we should keep the door open for a business relationship with Placer County. Despite arguments to the contrary, Placer's euthanasia rate is relatively low and its Auburn facility is state of the art. It may still play a role in Nevada County's animal services.
That's likely not a popular opinion. But just remember, it's coming from a friend of Sammie's Friends.
Because in this county the animal shelter has no enemies.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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