MANSFIELD — The Richland County Humane Society's Wednesday night meeting took on added significance following a suspension of its services on June 1.
The Humane Society’s board members met to address issues surrounding the organization’s lack of funds and to appoint new board members.
Stakeholders present at the meeting said the mood was standoffish — even tense. Former board president Mellie Bennett questioned whether the board desired new board members.
“They say they do, but they’re just not wanting new board members. They might say it, but no. They just want some money and then they’ll be back in the same situation they find themselves in now,” Bennett said.
Bennett, who’s tenure as board president was from 2006 to 2010, said without a plan from the Humane Society she would not donate money to the organization.
“You can’t hemorrhage money without an actual plan in place. They’re plan is to alienate,” a frustrated Bennett said.
Theresa Byerly was among the frustrated stakeholders at the meeting.
“I want to see it (Humane Society) thrive. It’s a good facility but there needs to be some accountability and transparency to the public,” Bylerly said after the meeting.
Frustrations from the public were addressed during the first half of the meeting, but then the tenor improved, said board member Don Bryant.
“I thought it was productive. We’re going to make a business plan going forward,” Bryant said.
The Mansfield City Council member has been involved with the Humane Society’s board since January 2016. He said the organization plans on meeting every two weeks until August to flesh out a business plan, along with a three- and five-year financial plan.
The board also established a financial committee, a public relations committee, a ways and means committee and a shelter committee that will deal with staffing issues within the shelter.
“Hopefully with those plans in place, we won’t fall into this situation again,” Bryant said, who added he did not know how the Humane Society found itself in the financial dilemma in the first place.
“They’ve been in the hole for a while,” he said.
As of Thursday, the Humane Society has a total liquid asset net of $96,027. When the Humane Society announced on June 1 it would cease all services for 90 days, the organization had a balance of between $18,000 to $26,000, or enough funding to operate for two months, according to board president Angie Eichinger.
Eichinger said the organization aims to raise $120,000.
“That will allow us to be comfortable through the end of the year,” she said. “But right now we are running on pennies.”
The board also voted in five additional members, increasing the current membership from eight to 13.
The organization will have a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser on Monday, June 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fairhaven Hall on the Richland County Fairgrounds.
“But right now we’re focusing on gaining trust with the community,” board member Linda Swisher said. “You’re just going to have to trust us. We can be trusted.”