County Council considering dissolving  Animal Control Advisory Committee

Aiken County Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Aiken County Government Center, pictured here.

Aiken County Council is considering the possibility of disbanding the county’s dormant Animal Control Advisory Committee.

The second reading of an ordinance that would dissolve the group is on the agenda for County Council’s 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Aiken County Government Center.

“We have an Animal Control Advisory Committee that has been appointed by County Council,” said County Council Chairman Gary Bunker. “I believe there are a few vacancies on it, and it has not met for several years.”

The main reason for the committee’s inactivity, Bunker continued, is that in recent times, County Council has been “taking quite a bit of advice” from the Friends of the Animal Shelter, or FOTAS, about issues involving the Aiken County Animal Shelter and the unwanted dogs and cats that are housed there.

“The question is do we want or not want to retain the Animal Control Advisory Committee?” Bunker said. “Last year, we did have an issue with the chicken ordinance, and we could have issues dealing with horses and other livestock. That would be an argument to keep the Animal Control Advisory Committee because those issues wouldn’t necessarily be in the wheelhouse of FOTAS.”

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held before its third and final reading.

“There is still additional discussion going on (among County Council members), and it (the ordinance) certainly could be amended” to keep the committee, Bunker said.

Personally, he believes the group could serve a useful function.

But “I think its charter should be amended so that it is well understood what it is supposed to get into,” Bunker said. “I think the last thing we want is a committee like that to step on the toes of FOTAS, which is doing such a bang-up job with the Animal Shelter and is doing so much for the citizens of Aiken County.

“I think the fear would be that if there was a topic that FOTAS was active on and it was something that the Animal Control Advisory Committee also was active on, it would lead to needless conflict,” Bunker concluded.

Among the items on the consent agenda for County Council’s meeting is a resolution that expresses support for the City of Aiken’s application to the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank for funding for improvements along the Whiskey Road/S.C. Highway 19 corridor.

“Between them, the county and the City of Aiken have maybe $20 million to apply to the project” for drainage and roadwork, Bunker said.

A big source for that money will be Capital Project Sales Tax IV, which the county’s voters approved last November. There also are funds available from previous Capital Project Sales Taxes.

But that won’t cover all the costs.

“In what I call the big solution,” Bunker said, “there would be all that drainage and road work along with what the City of Aiken wants – everything in the Dougherty Road corridor that leads to Whiskey Road, the cut-through from Dougherty to the Aiken Mall and the Powder House connector road. Everything would cost something in the order of $100 million.”

Bunker added that he “is excited” that the City of Aiken is taking the lead in seeking money from the Infrastructure Bank.

“I look forward to getting a good response from the grant application,” he said.

The Government Center is at 1930 University Parkway.

County Council will meet in Council Chambers, which is on the Government Center’s first floor.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.