Breckenridge Texan

City of Breckenridge considers closing Senior Citizens Center, Animal Shelter in June

City of Breckenridge considers closing Senior Citizens Center, Animal Shelter in June
May 02
11:08 2020

As the City of Breckenridge grapples with major sales tax revenue shortfalls caused by the economic slowdown from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Breckenridge Senior Citizens Center, Animal Shelter and Cemetery office could all be closed on June 3. Those cuts will also include layoffs in those departments.

The Breckenridge Senior Citizens Center, located at 210 N. Smith St., could be closed next month, according to City officials. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

According to Interim City Manager Houston Satterwhite, the recommendations were made by former City Manager Andy McCuistion before he retired on Thursday, April 30. He said McCuistion made the recommendations because of the sales tax revenue shortfalls faced by the City.

City commissioners will vote on whether to approve the recommended cuts at their June 2 City Commission meeting. According to Satterwhite, the cuts will include eliminating Aging Services, which operates the Senior Citizens Center, and Animal Control, which operates the Animal Shelter. It will also consolidate the cemetery services with the parks department and close the cemetery office. If approved, the cuts will become effective the next day on June 3.

Details still being worked out

Satterwhite said the changes have come about very quickly and many of the details on how the cuts will affect operations are still being worked out before the June meeting.

For example, he said, they’re still working out the details on how animal control calls will be handled and what they are going to do with the animals at the shelter.

He said the cemetery will be combined with the parks department and managed by them. They will also add seasonal employees to maintain the cemetery.

“My best turn on it is we are going to combine cemetery and parks into one department,” Satterwhite said. “So, the two park employees left will go assist with the cemetery and then hire seasonal employees between March and September. What (else) do we cut? They already whittled me down to four men in the street department … You can’t cut streets; you can’t cut water repair; you can’t cut police; you can’t cut fire.”

Changes to be discussed in June meeting

Although commissioners have their regular May meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, May 5, the proposed closures are not on that agenda.  Satterwhite said because the item is not on this month’s agenda, he recommends the public attend the June commissioners meeting to make their public comments about the closures when the item will be on the agenda for discussion and action. However, there will still be a public comments section at the May meeting for any citizen who wants to make comments to the commissioners on any subject.

Additionally, he said next week’s meeting will be held under COVID-19 restrictions, which limits it to 10 people, including the commissioners and City staff required to be at the meeting. However the meeting will be broadcast live over the Internet through Zoom meeting services. Using the service, citizens will be able to make comments during the citizens presentation portion of the meeting through Zoom.

The May 5 meeting may be accessed two ways:

  • Via the Internet: To connect to the meeting through Zoom’s meeting services on a computer or cell phone with internet service, click the following link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87446874121?pwd-MUFIV3ZiSEhIRTFNQThBUFR2SEFHQT09. When prompted, enter the Meeting ID of 874 4687 4121. Then, on the next screen, enter the Meeting Password of 492901.
  • Via telephone: To connect to the meeting from a phone, call 1-346-248-7799. When prompted, enter the Meeting ID of 874 4687 4121. Then, when asked, enter the Meeting Password of 492901.

Satterwhite said if there appears to be a lot of interest in citizens wanting to attend the June meeting, the city will look at relocating the meeting to a larger location if necessary to accommodate all the citizens who want to attend the meeting in person and make comments.

He also said he wants to emphasize to citizens that the changes and cuts are being proposed by the City of Breckenridge and not Stephens County. He said the county has received several phone calls this week concerning the changes, but that they are not the ones responsible for the changes. He said those calls should be made to the City offices.

“It’s the city’s responsibility, and on June 2 these issues will be addressed,” Satterwhite said.

The Stephens County animal shelter is one of the facilities that the City of Breckenridge is proposing to close next month. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: In 2018, students in Marlene Coplen’s breakfast club at South Elementary toured the Stephens County Animal Shelter after delivering items they had collected for the shelter, including pet food, toys, blankets and more. (Click here to read that 2018 story) The City of Breckenridge is considering closing the animal shelter, as well as the Senior Citizens Center. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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