City Council Makes No Decision on Humane Society Funding

The Frankfort City Council elected to take no action Monday night on a funding request by the Clinton County Humane Society on its Trap, Neuter and Release program at the Skanta Theatre on the second floor of the Frankfort Community Public Library.

The Humane Society did turn over the requested documents regarding its audit. But, Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes said he wanted more time to review the documents to see if they match up with the numbers he has.

“I’m happy to see the board came forward with some facts and data,” said McBarnes. “I want to go back and compare this to the numbers I have and I’ve been given. I want to corroborate this data.”

Board Member for the Humane Society Anne Florence said the total money spent by the Humane Society on the TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release) program was $7,255 from January 1 through July 31 of this year. She said the Humane Society would be willing to write a check for the remaining $2,745 to the city.

“If I’m comfortable with the numbers they have in here, then we’ll accept a check gladly from the Humane Society and get it back in the city general coffers,” said McBarnes.

However, McBarnes has threatened to veto any budget item until the Humane Society hosts a town hall meeting to answer resident’s questions.

“The Humane Society Board needs to hold an open town hall meeting that we as the public can come to, we can hold them accountable, we can ask questions and right, wrong or indifferent, get their response because until some of that transparency happens, we’re going to see a growing frustration in this community,” he said.

McBarnes added before he gives his okay to any kind of funding, he said they need to do that because they “owe it to our community to do just that.”

Frankfort City Councilman Eric Woods was asked if he thought the Humane Society would be agreeable to that.

“Absolutely,” said Woods Tuesday morning on WILO’s Partyline program. “I’m sure they will. It was discussed that the bylaws would be out for everybody to see. It was kind of just an unfortunate situation that this has turned into some kind of a social media play out for everybody. That was unnecessary. Unfortunately, the facts really get skewed when this happens.”

Woods was involved in another situation before the meeting as WBAA News and WLFI reported that he and Humane Society Interim Director Ben Pfeffer had a conversation. According to the email, Pfeffer said the Humane Society board wished to suspend a trap, neuter and release program funded by the City of Frankfort. But he says Woods convinced him not to do so, because “the mayor would win.”

“WBAA and WLFI did not report this very well,” said Woods. “In fact, I didn’t even get a call from WLFI, There’s talk of scamming. There’s talk of collusion. No, that’s not right. This is not doing due diligence. Sometimes I think we all understand that this is hard. It’s not the prettiest thing.”

McBarnes was definitely angry and upset about the email.

“To know that type of collusion and political pandering is happening behind the scenes and there are personal vendettas that are being put ahead of what is right for the taxpayers, it makes me sick,” said McBarnes. “You hear about things going on, but you never really think it’s going to happen to you. Seeing it in black and white hurt very much. So, I’ve got to make sure we have none of that going on behind the scenes before I decide to move forward and approve any more claims in the future.”

Another thing that irritated McBarnes was the fact that Pfeffer was a no-show at Monday’s meeting.

“I think he did his board a disservice,” said McBarnes. “That lady that had to get up there and talk on behalf on him, that had to be an uncomfortable situation. Ben needed to be here. It was a shame he didn’t step up, own up to it and be here to face us. But it tells me all I need to know. It tells me that the email was very factual. He meant what he said. He was embarrassed by it and he didn’t show up.”

Woods said this is an issue that has gotten way overblown.

“This is really an issue that was very small as it relates to the city,” said Woods. “That was overplayed on a top of a larger issue with the Humane Society and their choice to terminate the previous director.”

Woods added, “I think we all know the mayor threatened to veto (the money for the program) and I have no problem saying I absolutely disagree with that action. He’s well within his rights to veto. But we didn’t have enough information and we had a working committee to try to make sure we had the proper information coming us to make an informed decision.”

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 8, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Old Stoney.