Levy Court members on Tuesday formalized the selection of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary as the county's animal control service provider.
The approval was part of the panel's consent agenda, a section of the night's schedule where routine issues are bundled together and voted on together in an effort to save time. Although commissioners Eric Buckson and Terry Pepper were not at the 7 p.m. business meeting, the remaining five commissioners gave their unanimous endorsement to the proposal.
It was a quiet ending to a process that had upset supporters of the Kent County SPCA, which had submitted the losing counterproposal. Speaking during the public comments period of the June 4 Levy Court committee session, members of the public and the KCSPCA board of directors had expressed doubts about the quality of service Safe Haven could provide.
There were no public comments made at Tuesday business meeting.
The county's contract with Safe Haven calls for a lump sum payment of $868,972 for the period ending June 30, 2014, with three-percent increases over the next two fiscal years. The contract cost will escalate to $895,041 in Fiscal Year 2015 and $921,892 for FY 2016.
Approximately one-third of the initial year's costs will go to personnel expenses.
Although headquartered in Georgetown, where the no-kill Safe Haven has room for 100 dogs, the business has contracts with private kennels in Kent and Sussex counties for another 65 animals. Safe Haven officials have said they also plan to open satellite office in the Dover area.
In other actions Tuesday night, commissioners approved a $50,000 amendment to the county's operating budget to pay for software changes at the Clerk of the Peace office. The new software is needed to implement the state Marriage Equality Act of 2013, passed by the Delaware legislature in May.
The state of Delaware will reimburse Kent County for the expenditure.
The vote on the new software and a contract for its installation was not unanimous, however. Commissioner Glen Howell cast the lone vote against the measure because, he said, a majority of people in the country do not believe in same-sex marriage.
While 18 states now have approved same-sex marriages, Howell noted there are 32 states where that is not the case.
"I don't believe [the Marriage Equality Act] enacted by the General Assembly is representative of the peoples' will," he said afterward. "I realize my vote wasn't really needed, but I voted as a matter of principle."